Since the New York Rangers took over first place in the Eastern Conference, it became habitual for some to eye the matchup at the Boston Bruins on January 22nd.
It is a natural thought process, the best in the standings vs. the majority opinion best. Heck, even I tend to ignore the upcoming schedule out of excitement for the Rangers-Bruins tilt.
The Rangers themselves, however, cannot overlook the next two games vs. the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.
Nashville is a Western Conference foe, so it is even more likely for the Rangers to have an off game. As we have learned in the past couple of seasons, off games are not something teams can afford in the NHL.
Whether it's playing physical, getting off to a fast start, or simply acting like the Predators are the Flyers, the Rangers must play 100% to beat the opponent.
As for the Penguins, the rivalry is there, the story lines are there, so the only remaining aspect of the game is the Rangers themselves showing up to further bury the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Standings.
The Bruins are certainly the most exciting upcoming opponent, but the Predators and Penguins are no slouches, and should be treated as such.