In the NY Post, Larry Brooks writes that now isn’t the time to panic or overreact as last season the Rangers were 3-3-3 in their first nine games before they turned things around and finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Marc Staal told Brooks that the Rangers can’t just rely on the amount of talent they have, they need to remember what made them vault to the top of the Eastern Conference last season, “We have spurts where we play below the hash marks and try to wear the other team down, but we haven’t been able to do that consistently. We have the talent to be creative off the rush, but we can’t get away from grinding. That’s the way we have to play.”
The Rangers are six points behind the Penguins with one game in hand.
Adam Rotter: What is or when is panic time? Is when they can’t win the division? Is it when they may not make the playoffs? Is it based upon what your specific expectations for the Rangers this season are? I’m confident that the Rangers, with 39 games left, will make the playoffs. To me, that is all that is important. Division titles are nice, home ice is nice, but this team thinks they can win the Stanley Cup and they only need to make the playoffs for a chance to do that. You don’t need to be the best or most dominant team in the regular season to win the playoffs. You need to be the team that is playing the best in the playoffs and that is why the Devils, as a six seed, beat the Rangers last year.
You look at the Flyers in 2010 and the Kings last year. Both were expected to be Stanley Cup contenders heading into the season but then struggled and only made the playoffs at the end of the season. Once the playoffs started though, both teams raised their level and went to the finals. It’s an unorthodox blue print and not one that a team should want to follow, but a precedent has been set. The Rangers can struggle and be sloppy all they want during the regular season, they just need to be good enough to have a chance to straighten things out come playoff time.