By Brian Monzo
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When the puck drops at the Garden tonight, the Rangers should have Vinny Prospal back in the lineup for the first time this season. The Rangers are hoping Prospal will jump-start Marian Gaborik.
After a poor performance against the Penguins on Tuesday, the Blueshirts will need to find their way against the 30th overall ranked NJ Devils. For most of the season, this would have been a game any team would likely win, but the Devils are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, and Martin Brodeur has been playing the best he has played all year.
As the Rangers continue to shift back-and-forth from the 5-6-7 position in the Eastern Conference, they find themselves needing these two points.
Here are three reasons the Rangers must win this game:
1- The Rangers are 12-11-3 at MSG. The Devils are 7-17-1 on the road. Heading into late March/early April, MSG has to be a hard place to play at. Right now, it is not. It has to be, or else this team is going nowhere.
2- They cannot lose two in a row after the all-star break. They were not playing the greatest of hockey heading into the break (4-5-1 in their last 10) and they need to hit their stride now. They played a brutal game against the Pens but need to get their second half to the season on the right track. Playing a hot team isn’t an ideal way to get it started, but the fact is the Devils have not been scoring and the Rangers are in prime position to start their playoff push.
3- The final four spots in the Eastern Conference are only separated by seven points, and their are realistically seven teams going for those spots. The schedule in February includes Detroit, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Washington and Tampa Bay, so there are not too many games against a team that has struggled like NJ. Two points is a must here.
I said this team would go 44-30-8. With a win tomorrow, they will hit their 30th win. Slowly but surely they are getting there.
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Will the Rangers win tonight? Make your prediction in the comments below…