Fourteen games left. Home-and-home against the Flyers today and tomorrow. Home-and-home against the Flyers April 9-12. And 10 games in between.
I think it’s safe to say that these four against the Flyers are going to go a long, long way in determining the Rangers’ fate.
at Montreal Tuesday (third in four nights).
Buffalo March 21.
Ottawa March 22 (rare back-to-backs at home).
Minnesota March 24 (the only non-conference game left; shootout or OTL points allowed don’t matter).
at Atlanta March 26.
at Pittsburgh March 28.
Devils March 30.
at Carolina April 2.
at Boston April 4.
Montreal April 7.
So some games against teams more desperate or as desperate as the Rangers are/will be; some against teams they can’t catch; some against teams who are their direct competition for playoff spots.
I know, that’s Mike Milbury-esque analysis. But it’s reality, and to try to emphasize one game over another is idiotic at this point. Also to try and determine which games might be Rangers wins or Rangers losses makes no sense, especially since we know they can beat top teams and lay eggs against bottom-feeders.
But, obviously, having four against an arch-rival in such a short stretch makes them crucial.
PS, I expect Nik Zherdev to react positively from his benching the other night, and to be a force down the stretch. Don’t mis-read Tortorella’s intent. He’s not saying he doesn’t want or like Zherdev. He’s saying he expects much more from him. This is his way of getting it.
Is anybody else looking to an annoy-athon between Sean Avery and the Flyers’ new pest, Daniel Carcillo?
I also think the NHL’s GMs might see a staged fight or two, and perhaps even one of those late-game donnybrooks if any of these four get out of hand.
Finally, I wish I was in Philly even if only for Lauren Hart’s national anthem, the best in sports.