Atlanta Thrashers 3, New York Rangers 0: Rangers Now Need Playoff Prayer

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Atlanta Thrashers 3, New York Rangers 0: Rangers Now Need Playoff Prayer

On a night that the New York Rangers extra effort award was handed out and more importantly, with playoff aspirations fully controlled by their own performance, the Rangers came out with nothing against the Atlanta Thrashers: it was a game in which any coach would throw the tapes in the garbage and totally forget about it. Only problem is that this one could be hard to forget as it could very well be the game that sends them golfing early this offseason. As a result of their pathetic performance, a 3-0 loss, the Rangers must cross their fingers that the Carolina Hurricanes help them out.

The Thrashers scored twice in a frame of 15 seconds in the second period on some missed defensive assignments and that totally sucked the nervous life out of Madison Square Garden and tensed the team even more. Sure, the Rangers hit a few posts, but they failed a few times on a number of empty nets and could not finish when they desperately needed to. Any chance of another third-period comeback was quashed when Eric Boulton scored just over four minutes in as Marian Gaborik was beat up the ice. He was then benched for the remaining 15:31 of the period. His benching symbolized the Rangers' night: no hunger or life.

The power play was also totally ineffective: 0-for-4 and is now scored just once in its last 27 opportunities. According to Andrew Gross, the Rangers are 5-7-1 against Eastern Conference non-playoff teams since Jan. 20 and are just two games (19-17-4) at home ice.

The magic number between the Hurricanes and Rangers remains three. Carolina has two games remaining: at Atlanta tomorrow night and at home against Tampa Bay Saturday night. The Rangers play the Devils Saturday afternoon. All the Rangers can do now is hope. Both teams have 34 regulation/OT wins. If the Rangers win their final game, and the Hurricanes win both of their games to tie the Rangers in points, the Hurricanes would have the advantage (with one more regulation/OT win). If the Hurricanes win and lose any combination of their final two games -- and the Rangers lose, the Hurricanes would hold the advantage (with one more regulation/OT win).




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New York Rangers Vs. Atlanta Thrashers: Rangers Playoff Lives On The Line

The New York Rangers may have lost Ryan Callahan to a broken ankle but this is a team that will never offer up any excuses. With two games left in the season, they don't really have any time to let injuries ruin their playoff party. Somebody else will just have to step up and fill the void just as they have all season during an assortment of other injuries. Tonight the Blueshirts will faceoff against the Atlanta Thrashers, who will be looking to spoil the Rangers post-season dreams, in a true "must-win" game in every sense of the word.

The magic number is three: Rangers win tonight and it's down to one. If they lose, they'll leave their fate in Carolina's hands because they'd only have one game to cut the margin. New York is currently two points ahead of the Hurricanes, who do not play tonight, for the final plaoff spot.

After the magnificent comeback last game against the Bruins and with playoff aspirations on the line, the Madison Square Garden should be jumping tonight. The Blueshirts have the ability to control their own playoff destiny, unlike last season when the last game shootout decided their fate.

Without Callahan in the lineup, the Rangers will need to find that spark from elsewhere in the lineup. They were 10-7-1 without him int he lineup earlier this season after he suffered a broken hand. Wojtek Wolski showed how talented he really is during the comeback against the Bruins -- and the Rangers would certainly appreciate if he were to show consistent effort from here on out. It would also be nice if Marian Gaborik could play like the goalscorer he's capable of being. Matt Gilroy has been moved from defense to offense for tonight's game -- and will be on the fourth line.




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