Rangers Vs. Devils: Here's The Next Vitally Important, Must-Win Game Of The Season

The Rangers need to win today.

Remember during the lockout -- yeah, sorry to bring that mess up again, guys -- when every single day of actual face-to-face negotiations turned into "the most important day of the lockout negotiations?" This past week and the next few games will have the exact same feel.

The Rangers played the Florida Panthers in a must-win matchup last week. They won 6-1. Then they took of the Buffalo Sabres on Friday in a must-win game. They won 8-4. Those wins allowed Sunday's afternoon matchup with the New Jersey Devils to be, well, another must-win matchup.

No pressure, guys.

Let's take a moment to see where things stand:

Islanders -- 53 points, 20 ROW (3 games remaning)
Senators -- 52 points, 19 ROW (4 games remaning)
Rangers -- 50 points, 19 ROW (4 games remaning)

Jets -- 49 points, 21 ROW (3 games remaning)

So as you can see, the Rangers have made some strides in the standings this past week, thanks to the Islanders beating the Jets in a shootout (thanks for not being able to take care of that one in regulation, Islanders) and the Senators losing to Toronto Saturday night.

The Rangers -- with a win today -- would tie the Islanders with 20 ROW and be a single point behind them in the standings. The Rangers would stay in 8th place, however, since the Senators would hold the win percentage tiebreaker. If the Senators lost their game in hand, however, the Rangers would jump into 7th.

Here is some good news. Thanks to the Jets loss to the Islanders, the Rangers can lose another game and still control their own destiny. The most points the Jets can get right now is 55, so the Rangers (with four games remaining) would need 56 points -- since we're being safe and assuming the Rangers won't catch the Jets in the ROW column.

That's a lot of "well, if this happens then ..." the Rangers can avoid if they just keep winning games. They need to go 3-1 in their last four games to secure their spot in the playoffs. Not much wiggle room there.

Then again, if they Rangers fancy themselves as a playoff team, there shouldn't be an issues with winning three of the next four.

That starts today.

No one said it was going to be easy.