NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 29: Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers celebrates his second period goal with teammate Ryan Callahan #24 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on November 29, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Alright, time to hop off the Bobby Ryan trade train for a few hours and get back to New York Rangers' hockey. Tonight the Rangers are going up against a struggling Carolina Hurricanes team that's 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and is currently residing in the Southeast Division's basement.
The Rangers, on the other hand, are fresh off a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins which gave the team a three-game winning streak that saw victories over the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers as well. Those are three of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference and a stretch of hockey that even had John Tortorella beaming after all the dust settled.
That makes tonight's matchup a trap game. The Rangers, who are off their most convincing winning streak of the season, need to keep it going against an opponent that doesn't have it all together right now.
Join me after the jump for more.
The Hurricanes aren't exactly push-overs though, even though they've played like it in some games. Eric Staal is still a potent scorer, even if he only has five goals and seven assists in 26 games. Honestly, the Hurricanes most potent goal-scorer right now is Jeff Skinner, who has 10 goals and 22 points on the year and is seven points ahead of his next closest teammate.
The Rangers' defense, which effectively held the Capitals, Flyers and Penguins to just six combined goals, needs to do more of the same tonight. The Rangers' offense, which scored 12 goals in the three wins, needs to get on the board quickly against a pair of goaltenders who both have a GAA higher than three.
If the Rangers believe they are an elite team, and there's no reason to assume they don't, then they need two points tonight.
Who knows what's going to happen down the road. And sometimes the points you get -- or don't get -- at the beginning of the year can become even more important as the season draws to a close.
So why not get the points when you can. And the Rangers can get them tonight.