Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ranger "Limp" Into Playoffs

Well the Rangers are in the playoffs again in a season that while they compiled 101 points they didn't seem to play to their potential. Actually they have limped into the playoffs. Ryan McDonagh's presence is in doubt due to a broken hand he suffered against Columbus on April 4th. Also lesser injuries to Girardi, Zuccarello and Eric Staal, and Lundqvist leaving the practice on Monday didn't send waves of confidence through the organization. So welcome to the playoffs.

To add to the miseries the Rangers get the Penguins, the best team in the NHL, who finished with a 14-2 run. We get the Penguins thanks to the Islanders, who went into the tank against the Flyers. May the Panthers sweep them in four games. The Penguins have injuries of their own. Malkin has been out since March 11th plus forwards Bryan Rust and Beau Bennett. However, the biggest injury may be to goalie Marc-Andre Fleury out the last six with a concussion. The backup goalie Matt Murray is also out and that leaves Jeff Zatkoff as the Pens goalie. All these haven't slowed the Pens a bit.

Do the Rangers have a chance? Of course they do. These are the NHL playoffs where many an 8th seed has shocked the hockey world. The Rangers need Nash and Eric Staal to step up big. They still haven't found the right partners for Staal. Here is a guy who has averaged a point a game in the playoffs, 43 pts in 43 games. Only four others have averaged a point a game and two of them are on Pittsburgh's roster: Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin.

The Ranger D will be tested. The coach will have to decide between rookies righty McIlrath and lefty Skjei to see who gets the sixth spot. Too bad these guys, both good, didn't get more ice time during the regular season, but we coached to the higher salaries hence the inexperience we face. So the Ranger D must play disciplined and tough, helping Lundqvist not hindering him.

Finally, the biggest key: Lundqvist. He is not getting any younger, like all us mortals.  Hopefully, the illness that forced him out of practice was not serious. I love the Rangers, but we may be in this over our heads. However, we have Henrik Lundqvist and with Lundqvist all things are possible. Let's get it to a seventh game and watch Lundqvist do his magic. Wake up Rick Nash and Eric Staal, keep it going Krash Kreider and JT Miller, step it up McIlrath and Skjei, God Bless Lundqvist and Let's Go Rangers.



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