Rangers Not Great But Still Atop Local NHLers
The Rangers may not have had their best week, but they maintain the best of the local NHL teams. @JoeBianchino
New York Rangers: According to the records, it wasn't that bad a week for the Rangers. They scored two wins in their four games since last Wednesday, including a gutsy 4-3 win over the Bruins. Still, their play was far from worthy of a team that holds an eight point lead in their conference. They let two different 2-0 leads slip away from them in those four games, and ended the week with one of their worst games of the season. Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Devils was ripe with turnovers, bad penalties and mental mistakes - the type of play that I think may literally make John Tortorella's head explode (anyone seen Scanners?). As we hit the homestretch of the season the Rangers need to pick up their play, and they'll be given their chance this week, with four games against teams that rank no higher than sixth in their conference.
Boston Bruins: The Bruins' rough stretch continued this week as they were, once again, unable to crack .500. Though all four of their games were decided by one goal, the Bruins' injury woes and overall poor play has moved them back into a tie for fourth in the Eastern Conference. The defending champions are still regarded as a definite contender, but at 7-9-1 since February, they should be careful to avoid the devastating end that befell their beered-up, chickened-up baseball counterparts. This week they'll play four games, with two of note: one against the surging Sabres, and the other against the second place Penguins.
New Jersey Devils: After losing all three of their games last week, the Devils rebounded with impressive wins over the Capitals and Rangers. Without a doubt the Devils have cooled off since the tear they went on coming out of the All-Star break, but this week's wins were enough to remind the league that the squad is beginning to figure some things out. They sit sixth in the conference, though are a comfortable nine points ahead of ninth place and will play four games this week against two opponents, with back to back home and homes against the Islanders and Flyers.
Buffalo Sabres: Never has a team that sits outside of playoff position had so much of the league running scared. The Sabres have been a bitter disappointment all season, but have won six of their last eight games and appear to be dangerous...if they can manage a way into the playoffs. They'll look to continue their great run with four games in the next week, with two coming against teams currently in playoff position (Boston, Ottawa).
New York Islanders: Much the opposite of the Sabres, never has a team that sits minutes away from the largest metropolitan area on the Eastern seaboard gone so unnoticed. The Islanders managed a good week this week, taking on three of the conference's best and managing two wins. And yet? No one seemed to notice. Once again the Islanders have failed to make an impression on the league this season, and as such will need much more than two quality wins to rouse us out of the sleep their lackluster play has put us in. They'll have their chance this week with games against the Devils, Rangers and Capitals.