The New York Rangers have won four of their last five. It was a vital streak which allowed the Rangers to move into a much more comfortable position in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The most recent win, a 6-3 rout over the New York Islanders, showcased Marian Gaborik; who buried two goals and looked as though he has finally found his game. Gaborik has had games like this before (incidentally against the Islanders) so it's too soon to confirm that he's "back," but there is no doubt the Rangers are much more dangerous when Gaborik is on his game.
New York has outscored its opponents 34-22 and have gone 6-4 in its last 10. That includes the four wins in five games set mentioned earlier. It's been a stretch in which the Rangers have been dominating the games they have been winning, and truly hanging around in the games they are losing.
It's a good sign for a team fighting for a playoff berth.
Tonight the Rangers matchup against a team ahead of them in the standings. Montreal holds an eight-point lead over the Rangers, and with just 11 games to play it's a relatively insurmountable lead. Of course a win tonight will cut the lead to six points, and then all the Rangers need is a three game stretch to tie things up.
But that's looking too far into the future for a team who needs to worry about right now.
New York needs to be, and to be fair has been, focusing on the team in front of and behind them. The Buffalo Sabres, who are in eighth place, are just two points behind the Rangers with a game in hand. The Carolina Hurricanes, who are in ninth place, are four points back with no games in hand.
That's a far cry from the two, and at times three, games in hand both of those teams had over the Rangers earlier in the year. But you need to win the games you have in hand to make them count, and thankfully for the Rangers the Hurricanes couldn't capitalize.
- Expect Henrik Lundqvist to go tonight. As we reported here weeks ago, this will be a common theme thanks to the Martin Biron injury.
- A win would give the Rangers 38 wins and 80 points on the year.