So, the Rangers’ winning streak was snapped by a 3-2 loss to the Senators. This afternoon, we take on the Caps (10-12-1) in Washington to kick off a road trip. The good news is that the Flyers, who are dogging at our heels in the standings, were soundly beat 3-0 by the Boston Bruins yesterday. The bad news is that they’re now sitting at 10th place with 25 points, right behind the Winnipeg Jets, who also have 25 points. We’ll be playing Winnipeg this week, so a lot is at stake and the Rangers need to rack up as many points as possible to hang on to their playoff spot.
Let’s look at what awaits in the week ahead:
On Tuesday night, the Rangers head to Buffalo to face the Sabres (9-13-3). The Sabres lost their last game in a shoot out to the Devils and will be playing the Flyers tonight. The Rangers just saw the Sabres at home on March 3rd, and hung on for a 3-2 shoot out victory. The good news is that Patrick Kaleta will still be out on suspension after the nasty hit on Richards and Richards is back on the ice after missing two games because of the hit. Let’s just hope that Nash can keep up his streak of scoring in every game, and the Rangers can repeat the strong power play opportunities they converted to goals in the last Buffalo game.
Thursday brings us to the next stop on the road trip, Winnipeg. The Jets (12-11-1) beat the Rangers 4-3 on February 26th, with Kane and Jokinen both scoring two goals each. This time, Nash, McDonagh and Del Zotto are all ready to play. Hopefully, the presence of some of our strongest defensemen and forwards will weight the odds in the Rangers’ favor. The two points the Rangers would net in a victory would be really useful.
Our weekend game brings us to lovely Pittsburgh to face the Penguins (17-8-0). The Penguins are number two in the East as of today and just beat the Maple Leafs in a shoot out to round out a 4 game winning streak. The Penguins are unpredictable: if Fleury or Vokoun get scored on, they get rattled and fall apart (see the series with the Devils where Pittsburgh lost 3-1 in both legs of the series back to back or their 6-4 loss to the Panthers where Vokoun punched Panther Kopecky who had been cross-checked into the goalie), but Crosby, Neal, and Malkin are dangerous because they will attack a goalie with a barrage of shots until one finally goes in. Again, the points up for grabs in this game are very important for the Rangers, and the Penguins seem to have trouble with teams that play with desperation or agression (see their losses to the Panthers and the Devils).