Right now the Rangers have a 54.3% chance of making the playoffs.
If the Rangers win that changes to 73.7%.
If the Rangers lose that changes to 33.8%
Important is the wrong word. Important is back in March when you are hovering around sixth place. Once you get to April and you are tied for the final playoff spot, it is no longer important. It is Do or Die.
At 9:45 PM tonight you will know. It will either be exhilarating or depressing, but you will know. For now, what we know is this: The season of the New York Rangers hinges on tonight's game against the Montreal Canadians, and to a slightly lesser extent, the game between the Florida Panthers and the Philadelphia Flyers. And the Rangers cannot afford to choke now or they will be watching the Stanley cup Playoffs from their living room couch.
Strengths and weaknesses. On the positive side, their is Henrik Lundqvist who has been stalwart in net for his entire career. The Rangers have leaned on him countless times in the past and will do so again tonight. The Penalty Kill, best in the league, will be facing a Power Play that has been running at over 30% efficiency in recent days, and though the two quarterbacks of the Montreal PP will not be playing, they are still very dangerous.
On the negative side is the offense. What seemed like a complete turnaround after the trade deadline has regressed into the ineptitude that characterized the first 5 months of the season. To win games you must score, so scoring is a must tonight, especially against a talented offense. And the much criticized PP has never even shown signs of being consistently good. Luckily, tonight the Rangers don't need a consistent power play, just a one game explosion. If there is ever a game to convert 50% of chances, it is tonight.
No one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around. This is your game now gentlemen...make it count because you will remember it for the rest of your lives. Make it count.
Coming into our house tonight are the bruised, battered and demoralized Montreal Canadians. They will be without Andrei Markov. They will be without Mathieu Schneider. The blew a 2-1 third period lead to the Senators last night. They had no chance to rest. But they have something that the Rangers do not, and that is a chance at a postseason berth. They are desperate to prove that they can win without their star defensemen.
The Rangers need to get some of that desperation. The realization that all the work they put into this season hangs in limbo, and it is a real possibility that it will all amount to nothing. There is nothing more demoralizing than that. They need to remember what they are playing for throughout the game. No half-assed effort from any player at any time. No 40 minutes of effort. They need to remember to play at 110% for 60 minutes, with no exceptions. We are the wounded soldier, not the Canadians, and Montreal would like nothing more than to finish the job so for us it is all over but the shouting.
Nobody earns their salary in one night. But some players can sure as hell make themselves more valuable to the team than they have all season. Because the focus is on one game.
Yesterday is a canceled check. Today is cash on the line. Tomorrow is a promissory note.
Forget yesterday. Forget tomorrow. It all comes down to one night.
Do or Die.