There haven't been too many no-show performances that have lasted 60 minutes for the Rangers this season, but the game on Thursday was certainly one of them. The simple fact is that games like the one the Rangers turned in on Thursday happen.
Even the best teams come out flat and can't get anything going. It happens.
The key is to make sure the feeling (and the team's play) doesn't rollover to the next game. That will be John Tortorella's test tonight, as he tries to guide his team to a bounce back victory over the Florida Panthers. It won't be an easy task, however. The Panthers currently hold a very comfortable six-point lead in the Southeast Division which is even more impressive when you factor in the team's 4-3-3 record over their last 10 games.
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The good news? The Rangers have the talent to bounce back tonight without skipping a beat. Sure, Brad Richards hasn't been firing on all cylinders of late, but he's still a game-changer who stands tall when the pressure seems overwhelming.
New York also boasts one of the NHL's top goal scorers, and a Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov line that can hang with any defense in the league. Throw in the best goaltender the NHL has to offer in Henrik Lundqvist,
Tortorella also has a "healthy" defensive corps again. No, Marc Staal and Michael Sauer aren't coming back for the game in Florida, but Jeff Woywitka is ready is to; and apparently Tortorella would rather give him the third pairing minutes while allowing Tim Erixon to play 20+ minutes a night in Connecticut.
The Rangers, who were ousted from the Eastern Conference's top spot by the Boston Bruins, have an opportunity to get back on track, and do it against a tough team. The Panthers might have hit a bit of a speed bump after a blazing fast start, but they're still a very dangerous team.
New York is a dangerous team as well, especially with Brandon Dubinsky seemingly on the edge of finally breaking out.
One of the things that has distinguished this team from the past has been the Rangers' ability to win games even when their major cogs haven't been at their best. This team simply finds ways to win games.
Great teams usually do.