It's February, Now The Fun Begins For The Rangers

RALEIGH NC - JANUARY 30: Team Staal player Henrik Lundqvist #30 of New York Rangers reacts during the third period against Team Lidstrom in the 58th NHL All-Star Game at RBC Center on January 30 2011 in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Isn't it funny how with the Rangers playing well, this All-Star Break seemed as long as last year's Olympic hiatus? Last year I don't think any of us were in any particular hurry for the games to start again.

Well finally, the Rangers go back to work tonight against the Penguins, and the Pens will be without their two best players, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will both miss tonight's game.

The Rangers on the other hand are finally getting some good news health-wise, as Ryan Callahan is expected to make his return tonight, as is Dan Girardi. The surprising news was that they could be joined by Brandon Dubinsky, although we probably won't know that for sure until later in the day.

The good news just kept coming for the Rangers as it was announced Vinny Prospal will return Thursday night against the Devils, and Erik Christensen's return is in the not-too-distant future.

All of this good news could not come at a better time for the Blueshirts, because as we turn the calendar to February, the playoff push begins. The Rangers only play six games in the next seventeen days, which means most other teams will be catching up with them in games played. By comparison, the Canadiens, who have two games at hand on the Rangers, will play nine games over that same span.  So each game becomes more and more important for the Rangers to maintain their playoff positioning. Only ten points separate the Rangers from first place in the conference, but only five points are between them and the ninth seed.

I've been saying the last two months that the Rangers were going to have to find a way to tread water and survive these injuries. It looks like they've done that, and now they are just a week or so away from having a full roster at their disposal. I can't wait to see what they do with it.

So as we get ready for the Rangers return to the ice, here are some of the things I want to see in the next two months:

Get on a roll: Three game win streaks are nice, but going on a stretch of five or six wins in a row is how you separate yourself from the other teams.  One of those "eight wins in ten games" runs would do nicely.

Stay the course: For better or worse, this is the roster I want the Rangers to have at the end of the season. Let this team play the last thirty of the regular season, and let the chips fall where they may. Unless you can move pieces from Connecticut for an NHL player who can contribute, I like this Ranger roster, and I would hate to see it changed. Unless of course, they could move Chris Drury, which we all know isn't happening.

Give Jim Ramsay a well-deserved break: The Rangers have certainly gotten their money's worth out of their trainer, let's hope they don't need him quite so much the rest of the way.

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