Oh, it can still happen. Puncher’s chance.
But the choke-hold the Rangers had a month ago is gone. Margin of error? Ha.
They can only hope that the Thrashers carry over the performances in their 3-0 win tonight to tomorrow, when they host the Carolina Hurricanes, the Blueshirts’ principal playoff rival.
As was the case last year, the Rangers playoff hopes hinge on a win in the last game of the regular season. That, and having the Canes cool off.
“We felt this coming for the past three weeks,” said coach John Tortorella. “We have been on a pretty good run but Carolina keeps on winning, Buffalo keeps on winning. It doesn’t surprise me at all that it takes 82. We will be ready to play game 82.”
That’s against the Devils on Saturday in an MSG matinee.
“They are not in. They are going to do everything they can to spoil,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who must go to bed at night praying for some scorers. “They are going to do everything they can to not see us in the playoffs. Also, they want to end the season on a good note. It is going to be an exciting game, big game again like last year.”
The Rangers, on the cusp of closing out another bitterly disappointing season, will need a huge effort.
“Make sure we play the best game of the season,” said Brandon Dubinsky. “We have to keep it tight in this room. For the guys that were here last year, remember and make sure that fuels the fire.”
I love the way Dan Girardi summed this one up:
“Anyone watching could tell the difference between tonight and the Boston game, when we were playing with passion, urgency, and tonight it just wasn’t there. There’s no excuse. We had the driver’s seat and now we have to wait and see.”
On the Xs and Os, Marc Staal:
“We were disconnected the way we were coming up the ice…we were fighting back all game long. We were fighting to get a lead.”