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Rangers must end skid as playoff hopes dim

Do the Rangers have any fight left in

Do the Rangers have any fight left in them? We'll find out in the season's remaining 10 games, as they sit five points out of playoff position. (Mar. 21, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — With a few players still hanging at their lockers talking with reporters or broadcasters after practice yesterday, Rangers captain Chris Drury went around putting an end to the conversations.

"Meeting. Now,” he said sharply, prompting teammates to jump from their benches and hustle toward the players-only area.

A few minutes earlier, Drury had vowed that “no one here is going to mope around” after Sunday’s loss to the Bruins that left the Rangers in 10th place, five points out of the final playoff spot in the East, with 10 games to play. “The only thing anybody here should be worried about is the opening faceoff against the Islanders,” Drury said. “We can’t control what those other teams are doing.”

With 71 points, the Rangers, who have lost three straight games, face daunting odds starting with that home game against their rivals on Long Island tomorrow. They will need a string of wins and sub-.500 finishes from teams above them in the standings to sneak into the playoffs. Anything less will mean missing the postseason for the first time since the 2004-05 lockout.

“It’s been a kick in the teeth sometimes,” said coach John Tortorella, whose team is 3-5-2 since the Olympic break concluded. “But we just go on.”

In one bit of good news, Ryan Callahan and Sean Avery, who were injured in the Bruins game and did not practice, were not expected to be out for long. Callahan, who appeared to hurt his right knee late in the second period after colliding with Zdeno Chara on an icing call and did not play in the third period, was examined at the training center and described as “day-to-day” by a team spokesman. Avery, who was hit by a shot in the leg and was roughed up by several Bruins, was undergoing treatment and might practice today, Tortorella said.

The power play (excluding a four-goal burst against the Capitals on Feb. 4 in a 6-5 loss) has been only 11.7-percent effective in the last 29 games, and practice, which began with some laps, was almost exclusively devoted to working on entries, shots and traffic in front with two separate five-on-four units. In a notable change, Olli Jokinen (no goals in his last 11 games, two in 16 with the Rangers since being traded by Calgary) was not on either offensive unit.

Notes & quotes: Lee Baldwin, a 21-year-old free agent who led the British Columbia Hockey League in points by a defenseman (13-41-54) in 2008-09 with the Victoria Grizzlies, agreed to a pro contract. The 6-4 Baldwin played for the University of Alaska/Anchorage this season.

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