The New York Rangers continue to earn points at a very good rate, and that's a good thing. What isn't good is that they've dropped their last two games, the latest a 3-2 shootout setback to the Lightning in which they gave up two leads. The elite teams don't let that happen often. New York is not yet up to that status, but their ability to bounce back -- after such a disappointing finish in their last game --Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres on the road will be very telling (7:00 p.m. EST, MSG).
Buffalo (15-11-2) was supposed to be among the Eastern Conference's best teams this season. But after a very solid start and four-game winning streak in early November, the team has been extremely inconsistent with a 4-4-2 record in their last ten games. They rank 15th and 17th, respectively, in goals for and goals against. Jason Pominville has 30 points this season, 20 assists, and is on pace to best his 2007-08 season in which he had 80 points. Thomas Vanek leads the team with 13 goals and also has 28 points. Martin Biron will get the start in net tonight against his former club.
The Rangers will not face a healthy Ryan Miller tonight, but his backup, Jhonas Enroth, is more than capable of stealing a game, as he has an 8-5-1 record, 2.32 goals-against average and .925 save percentage -- while playing everyday with Miller sidelined with a concussion.
To have a chance to come out on top in this game, the Rangres have to simply play a more consistent, 60-minute game. Teams are too talented in this league that even minor lapses can lead to offensive chances (or even penalties) and ultimately to goals. Even with their excellent 15-6-4 record, New York is only in fifth place in the East, three points behind the first-place Flyers and three points in front of the eighth-place Capitals. There is no time to let your foot off the pedal.