Say what you will about point totals, remaining schedules, etc., but tonight's home contest against New Jersey is a must-win for the Rangers.
Why the urgency?
This is a team that is slipping, not gaining momentum.
Unlike the past two seasons where the Rangers were one of the hottest teams in the league entering the playoffs, they now face a tremendous task in just getting to the post-season with a "win a couple, lose a couple" pattern.
One characteristic that is evident under the new regime is that the Rangers (at this new tempo) simply run out of gas come the third period. Call it poor conditioning or the wrong players for this system, but the Rangers can't keep giving up odd-man opportunities and expect to win.
With a mere six games remaining, the Rangers can't afford a third loss in a row, nor can they lose any more ground in the playoff race.
A turnaround must begin tonight and who better to do that against than the Devils?
Henrik Lundqvist is going to have to be sharp and out-duel rival netminder Martin Brodeur. Lundqvist hasn't stolen a game for the Rangers in a while and tonight could see that happen.
Corey Potter will be filling in tonight for Michal Rozsival as Mike Sauer was relieved of his duties following the Pittsburgh game. The rookie came in at a tough time and wasn't really given a fair opportunity, but the Rangers don't have time to play around.
Aside from that, the lines will most likely be the same.
It's do-or-die time and the Rangers will not have an easy opponent the rest of the way. Their power play will have to step up a level as will their play in their own zone.
Strap in because it's about to get bumpy...