I don’t think they will tank, but they might not have to.
If they’re beaten by the Islanders tonight, then start the six-game trip, they might not be able to avoid a lottery pick. And there’s no reason to think they couldn’t go as low as fourth or third.
One thing that continually amazes me is how other teams get ripped apart by injuries (or trade away players, i.e. Atlanta and Carolina) and stay afloat. Other teams—Boston and perhaps now Philly—can’t handle the massive injuries they’ve suffered. Meanwhile the Rangers have maintained this miserable pace while remaining remarkably healthy for two years.
Do you realize they lost a total of 31 manpower games to injuries in 2008-09, and that Dmitri Kalinin led the team with six games missed. In the NHL, that’s virtually being injury free for a whole year. This year the Rangers have missed 57 manpower games, and a lot of those were by Brashear, and 13 by Dubinsky, who broke his hand early in the season. That’s still an unbelievably low number.
Yet, with all this health and good fortune, they stink.