By Brian Monzo
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Enough is enough. As the Rangers skated off the ice last night after a 6-2 thrashing by Islanders, everyone was aware of the task at hand. With four games remaining (Flyers, Thrashers, Devils and Bruins) and, holding a three point lead over the Hurricanes, the wins need to come. However, right now, the goals need to come.
After scoring 17 goals in three games, the team has now scored five goals in five games. With the exception of last night, the effort was there in the previous four games. Last night, in the 2nd and 3rd periods, it looked as if there were eight Islanders on the ice. There was no room. The reason? There was no forecheck by the Rangers. No grinding by Rangers. The things that made the Rangers the hardest team to play against were not being done, making them an easy team to create chances on and get a W.
Let’s take a look at the previous three games before last night. The Rangers battled the Panthers for a 1-0 win in typical Ranger form, with hard work and grinding. They then lost in a shootout to the Senators, 2-1, but again, they battled back and got a point. Wednesday, they played that same style of play and lost to Buffalo, 1-0, thanks to rookie goalie Jhonas Enroth.
The team now has two days off before heading to Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, a war which will be shown nationally on NBC. The last time the these two teams played, it was the same scenario, and the Rangers beat up the Flyers, 7-0. Though not likely to happen again, the same effort is needed.
Coach Tortorella has to get this team set to push for three wins out of the last four games. Every Ranger fan remembers what happened the last game of the season last year, with the Rangers playoff hopes on the stick of Olli Jokinen in a shootout. That image still makes me sick. The best thing to come out of that day was I was so disgusted, my now fiancee felt bad and took me to my favorite pizza place (Vic’s in Bradley Beach, NJ). Unfortunately, I still couldn’t get the bitter taste out of my mouth.
I can’t go through another pizza pity party next Saturday when the Rangers host the Devils in the regular season ender at MSG.
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How do you feel about the Rangers as the regular season winds down? Let us know in the comments.