Rangers center Vinny Prospal screens Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur during...

Rangers center Vinny Prospal screens Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur during a power play. (Feb. 3, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Just a hunch, but I'm betting the Rangers arrive here later today in a surly mood as they try to avoid extending a three-game losing streak when they face the Habs at Bell Centre at 2 p.m. tomorrow. 

The next four games -- here, in Detroit, in Atlanta and back home against the Penguins on Feb. 13, a 3 p.m. start -- seem to me to be a tipping point in the season. At the end of that stretch, there will be two weeks before the trading deadline. 

Carolina and Atlanta appear to be their main contenders for the 7-8 playoff slots in the East. The next eight days will have a lot to say about the direction this team should take.

It's not going to be easy here to begin with. Remember how Henrik Lundqvist lost it and leapt on Pacioretty in the last game?  Of course, I think it'll be Martin Biron in net tomorrow, but the Rangers will need to keep Les Habs away from his crease as well, and in the face of Carey Price. Time to push the envelope.  Montreal also visits the Garden again on March 18.

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