Most great movies carry the same script structure. Exposition (intro), Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Denouement (finale). Since the all-star break, the New York Rangers with 17 wins, 4 losses and 3 OT losses have been figuratively climaxing (NSFW?) all over the NHL and are sitting in first place at the top of the league with 95 points after 68 games played.
Despite being outplayed, the boys in blue took game 2 of their weekend back-to-back against the Florida Panthers on Sunday with a score of 2-1. In a game where the Panthers (6th in the Atlantic Division) outplayed the 1st place Rangers with 98 shot attempts (39 on net), Marty St. Louis unfortunately suffered a leg injury and is reported to be out for 10-14 days. With just 14 games left in the regular season, will this be the ‘Falling Action’ of the NYR season which may force some tribulation to a team who can’t seem to lose? The Rangers are not expected to make any call-ups from Hartford in light of Marty’s absence. Reported on 3/17, the new look offensive pairings will be Kreider-Stepan-Nash / Hayes-Brassard-Zuccarello / Hagelin-Sheppard-Miller, / Glass-Moore-Fast. A weaker offensive group as a whole will take the ice for the next 10-14 days with veteran MSL in the bench.
There are reports that speculate King Henrik to be back in net on March, 24th against the LA Kings for a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs (how appropriate?). I suspect The King to then play the last 10 games of the season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rangers play .500 hockey for that last stretch of 10 games to close out the season. Hank will need a few games to knock off some of that rust as a result of not playing, but in the end he will surely be ready for one of the most intense, lengthy and arduous post-seasons in all of sports- the NHL playoffs. It has been amazing to watch Cam Talbot as much more than just a fill-in during Henrik’s absence. No longer a backup, I foresee Cam’s trade value being high come the off-season.
All true sports fans understand that momentum leading into the playoffs is one of the most important factors in winning a championship. The Rangers may falter a few in the final weeks of the season, but expect them to be a well-oiled machine come playoff time, especially with the experience of last year’s Cup run. There is no doubt this season seems more special than the last and it will be fun to sit back and watch if the ending of this great story is one of champion… or tragedy.
Next up: NYR take on the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, 3/18 at the Garden