Hang on one second here folks. Ok, there it is, my panic button. Step on this thing. Ok, I am back and my beloved Rangers, once with a commanding lead for the top playoff spot in the Eastern Conference must be feeling the neck get tight as the lead slowly slips away. The Rangers lost AGAIN Saturday night and with the Penguins getting a point  in Philadelphia Sunday that insurmountable lead is down to a scant 1 point. Heck their lead over the 3rd place Flyers is down to a mere 3 points.

So what happened. Well a few things in my opinion. 1st off it's crunch time. Not that December doesn't matter or January doesn't matter but now it's time to get it in gear for the playoffs. The Rangers may not have another gear to get into to. I believe their defensive minded coach choked off offensive creativity for a long stretch and now despite throwing 41 shots at Av's golie Semyan Varlamov (recognize that name Rangers fans-he dominated the NYR in the playoffs when he played for the Caps) and like those playoffs Varlamov stopped all but 1. The Pens have registered at least a point in 11 straight games including a sizzling 10 game winning streak that ended Sunday afternoon. the return Of Sid Crosby has added new sting to the Penguins zing as well.

Now the question needs to be asked. How important is it to finish 1st in the east. Well that depends on how you think this will play mentally on the club should they not hold off Pitt and Philly. the Rangers by the way haven't lost to the Flyers all year winning all 5 contests. The Rangers still have 1 game left with both Pitt and Philly so there is time and matchups left.

The doomsayer will say a full on gag for 1st will be real damaging to the Broadway Blueshirts. I am not going to buy into that totally. When you have the best golie in the NHL in King Henrik Lundqvist you always have a great chance to get it back on track. Some will claim the Rangers inability to add some scoring punch before the trade deadline is hurting big time. I can't say no to this although my call was for size on the backline and they did add some of that in John Scott. let's also, not to make excuses, add to this that King Henry missed a few games with the flu and Martin Biron is not King that's for sure.

However mentally this will not play well for a team that has had issues getting into the playoffs and even if they did get in can't get out of round 1. the Rangers have 11 games left and not looking past anyone but after the next 2 contests at home vs New Jersey and Detroit the schedule does get a bit softer until April rolls in. Buffalo, Toronto, Minnesota, Winnipeg and Montreal are up  after the Wings and none of them are playoff teams as of this writing. The 3 middle games-Toronto, Minny, and Winnipeg are all on the road.

The final 11 starts Monday vs the Devils. It's hang on to your hat time and get it going if you are a Ranger player or fan!