It was January the last time that the New York Rangers took on the Florida Panthers.
New York played Florida twice, and lost both of its games in lackluster efforts.
Two months later, the Rangers cannot afford to do that again. The two points sitting on the table tonight are huge, especially when you consider the Rangers position in the standings.
Currently the Rangers are in seventh place, three points clear of Buffalo and six points clear of Carolina. Both the Hurricanes and the Sabres have one game in hand. Looking in the other direction, the Rangers are only five points away from Montreal with the same amount of games played. Just something to keep an eye on as the season draws to a close.
But, as usual, the Rangers can't focus on what's going on around them. They need to ensure that all of their attention is on the team that's right in front of them.
Henrik Lundqvist will be an obvious focal point to the game, especially after his outstanding performance against the Penguins. Lundqvist, who didn't miss a minute after suffering a neck injury against the New York Islanders, will get the nod again tonight.
Is it any surprise that the Rangers four-game winning streak and Marian Gaborik's four game tear are coinciding? It shouldn't be.
The Rangers sniper has four goals and one assist in the past four games. But it's not so much the points he's scoring so much as the presence he's become on the ice. He's dangerous again, and you don't need me to tell you that a dangerous Gaboirk makes the Rangers a munch better team.
Tonight, New York must avoid the trap game of losing to a lesser opponent. The Panthers are 11 points out of a playoff spot and currently reside in 13th place. If the Rangers truly believe they are a playoff team then these are games they need to win.