Including tonight’s contest against the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Rangers will play six games in the next eleven days. Even though this Ranger teams technically sits in a playoff position, they tie with 9th seed Montreal and only boast one more point than the 12th seed Islanders.
With Chris Drury, Ryan Callahan, Henrik Lundqvist and Marian Gaborik representing their countries during the Olympics the team needs to win now and often in order to contend for a playoff seat. To date the team received quite a bit of luck, only sustaining minor injuries to Brandon Dubinsky, Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal.
The main problem concerning the team lies in their lack of consistent defensive positioning and inconsistency to score goals on a nightly basis due to lack of skill.
Rookies Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto perform admirably for their age and experience but put too much pressure on young players Marc Staal and Daniel Girardi. Combine those problems with the bloated contracts and generally below average play of Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden and it becomes clear the blue line needs work to keep the puck out of the net.
Needless to say, no one outside of Del Zotto represents a fantasy worthy player in standard leagues and even he comes with a poor plus/minus. Girardi receives some pickups it seems every year as he consistently generates a fantasy mirage once a year.
The lack of skill also poses numerous problems. In the beginning of the month waiver-wire pickup Erik Christensen appeared to be a first-line talent playing beside Gaborik and Dubinsky and posting seven points in six games. Players like Artem Anisimov and Enver Lisin exhibit a plethora of skill but may be still a year or two away from using it.
The rest of the team generally lack the puck control and ability to move the puck into the offensive zone let alone set up plays.
If the Rangers do not win at least four of these upcoming six games or maintain a .500 record from here to the Olympics they will miss the playoffs. If that is the case even Gaborik will barely be a safe play with his supporting cast traded away.