Chris Drury

Playoffs Baby Playoffs!

It hasn’t been the prettiest of seasons for the Rangers, but in the end they’ve given themselves a chance. Going into yesterday’s match ups between the Rangers and Devils, and the equally important Lightning and Hurricanes game later in the evening, you would have been forgiven if you though the odds were stacked against the Blueshirts.

Over the last couple of weeks we had watched as a seemingly comfortable lead evaporated, as first the Canadiens and Sabres moved past the Rangers, and finally on Friday the Hurricanes pushed into the eighth and final playoff spot.

With just one game left for each team, and the tie breakers in favor of Carolina, the Rangers were left with the unenviable task of at least getting a point against the Devils to keep their season hopes alive.

In the end, the Rangers fought back from one-goal deficits twice in the game, to finish with a convincing 5-2 win. They then watched the Lightning explode out to a 3-0 lead in the first, before they cemented the Rangers’ playoff hopes late in the third with a couple of empty net goals.

We the fans – and by extension our significant others, pets and furniture – could now breathe a sigh of relief.

It was a strong counterpoint to where we found ourselves last year at this same point. A loss in a shootout ultimately deciding between the Flyers and Rangers as to who would get a chance at post season glory. Olli Jokinen‘s missed chance will go down as the difference in the end.

But not this year. With more man games lost to injury than any season since the lockout, the Rangers have clawed, fought and comeback to extend their season at least another four games.

It’s been a team that has been at times frustratingly short on offense and big plays, but has shown an ability to keep a lead that we’ve not seen, perhaps since 1993-94.

Going into this week’s playoff series against the Capitals, don’t put too much stock in this season’s 7-0 and 6-0 victories the Rangers had against Washington. It’s the playoffs, things get turned up a notch or two, and the Capitals have been underachievers despite winning the East.

That’s not to say that we should be ready to write the Rangers off either. One of the best road teams in the league during the regular season, the Blueshirts are likely to keep it close and give themselves a chance. In the end it may come down to just a handful of plays.

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