They have some positive monemtum, having captured two of their last three games and allowing only 5 goals in that span. They are heading into a home and home against Boston followed by two consecutive home games against the Thrashers. These teams are not the best out there but they have played good hockey of late. For the Rangers, all four of these games are winnable yet a test for the struggling team. If they do pull out all four, they will ride a 5 game winning streak into a 4 game road trip.
I may be getting a little ahead of myself. After all, what have the Rangers done to earn the suspicion of winning the next four? Haven't they been awful for the last two months?
Here is the situation. In the last 3 games, the Rangers have put at least 35 shots on net. They have played better defense and gotten better goaltending from Lundqvist. The the team has played well in almost every period. They have looked motivated, something that this team hasn't been in a long time. They have shown the ability to be good and now is the time to put it all together. If there is ever a time to start playing good hockey, it is now.
To finally get back to the top, the Rangers need to do a few key things.
Hank must remain steady in net. Goalie Coach Benoit Alairre has said that Lundqvist has been losing concentration at times. That cannot happen, especially when the entire team needs a lift from their goalie.
Dawes, Prucha and Dubinsky must continue their offensive output and must provide energy for the team. They can help take the pressure off of the better players who seem to be too anxious to play good hockey.
Play Every Period
The Rangers can never sit on any lead. They must be constantly attacking while remaining safe defensively. Playing hard on every shift of every period and working for every loose puck will wear down the opposition and create better opportunities.
This is the key. The Rangers are taking way too many penalties. They have faced a 5-on-3 disadvantage six times in the past four games. Staying out of the box will give the Rangers more offense and less pressure against Lundqvist.
Nobody said it would be easy to dig out of a huge hole, but this four game stretch will define this team and show how good they really are. Take advantage, and this team will get on a roll. Blow it, and you may as well kiss the cup goodbye.