In a few minutes, they'll face it off in Sunrise when the Rangers take on the Panthers, who technically remain alive. Considering that the Cats have given us fits, John Tortorella's club should know what to expect. Games there are never easy. Will Olli Jokinen come back to haunt his former team? Or will guys like Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton, Michal Frolik, Keith Ballard and Scott Clemmensen damage the Blueshirts' chances?
As expected, Henrik Lundqvist is in again with the coach showing no indication he won't ride his horse the rest of the way. Is he up to the challenge? So much for giving him more rest this season. The team would be nowhere close minus him and 40-goal man Marian Gaborik, who both need to deliver. Might the improved fourth line of Artie, Shelley and Prust provide another strong game? And what about the contributions they've gotten from P.A. Parenteau, Corey Locke and Anders Eriksson, who's supplied steady experience teamed with Wade Redden while Matt Gilroy watches from the press box. Management which includes the Savior and Messiah both on the trip have to have noticed the injection of energy the Hartford call-ups have had. Especially minus Ryan Callahan and Sean Avery. And how could we leave out Aaron Voros, who all he does is provide a lift whenever on for a shift following so much time away. It's a wonder he hasn't played more. Nice to see him get rewarded the other night.
Is this the game Chris Drury steps up? They'll need his leadership along with another strong 60-minute effort to come away with the all important two points. While that's going on, they'll also have an eye on Boston and Toronto. With Atlanta blowing a lead late in regulation to the Pens in falling 4-3 in overtime, the Rangers can leapfrog the Thrashers and tie the Flyers in points. But Philly has more wins. So, it very well may come down to those final two games.
They're set to go. We'll have more later.