The New York Rangers won 12 of 14 games going into a matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden last week. They lost that game, 4-2, and then lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday in the shootout.
The Rangers area confident team, and going 12-3-1 in their last 15 games proves that. But the confidence has to remain high or else those losses can start to pile up quickly.
New York has back-to-back games against two tough opponents, starting with the Buffalo Sabres tonight. After the game in Buffalo, the Rangers will jet back to New York where they will host the Florida Panthers at MSG. You can see where the confidence factor comes into play.
During this stretch of fantastic hockey, the Rangers played like they expected to win every single game. Even the players talked after each game about how their confidence kept growing every time two points were added to New York's standings.
That confidence means something. That confidence does something.
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The Rangers can get that confidence back with a big win tonight. The Sabres are a good team, and a road win -- which would be the Rangers' fifth straight -- would give the team a boost heading into tomorrow night's matchup against the Florida Panthers.
But the Rangers can't be thinking about Sunday, not with Buffalo ready tonight.
This should be a game in which the Rangers come out emotionally charged, with an inner desire to make up for their loss to the Lightning. The Sabres will be tired tonight -- they lost 2-1 in overtime to the Panthers last night -- so the Rangers should be able to jump on them early.
In the end, a win would go a long way in keeping the Rangers a confident team. A loss would knock them down another peg.