Are The New York Rangers In "Must Win" Territory

Do the New York Rangers need to start treating every game like a playoff game?

The NHL playoffs are just 18 games away from the New York Rangers. And with the expectation being that 55 points would get an Eastern Conference team into the playoffs; the Rangers would need 23 of a possible 36 points to get to that mark.

Obviously things can change. Teams on the bubble now can fall off and no longer be fighting for a spot in the top-eight. Then again, maybe one of the bubble teams now blows it away and pushes their way into the top six seeds. Either way, the Rangers need to start winning some games with consistency.

Right now the Rangers are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for that final playoff spot. But since the Hurricanes have more ROW wins (15 to the Rangers' 12) they hold the first tiebreaker. Which, of course, means if the season ended today the Rangers would be eliminated from the playoffs.

Not exactly where fans thought this team would sit back in January, is it?

Tonight the Rangers take on a Washington Capital team that is starting to find their game. The Rangers have won their past two games against the Capitals, but if Thursday's showing against the Florida Panthers is any indication, there is work to be done for the Rangers.

Personally, the Rangers need to feel like every game is a playoff game. There's too little time left and too many points needed to feel otherwise.

Tonight will be a good test for a team that desperately needs to start feeling good about itself. And I know if might not feel that way -- because the Florida loss was so horrible -- but if the Rangers win tonight they would have won three of their last four games.

Let's get there first. This team has to win tonight.

It may as well be a playoff game.