Rangers and Coyotes Hunger for the Playoffs at MSG

The Rangers looks to avenge their ugly loss to the Coyotes when the season first began, with both desperate for points as the playoff push continues tonight at MSG. A lot has changed for the Rangers who have been playing tremendous hockey lately with two critical wins against Metropolitan Division rivals Columbus and New Jersey. Although the Blueshirts have a 94% chance of making the playoffs according to sportsclubstats.com, seeding matters here as no one wants to face the Bruins.

Latest Playoff % for NYR as of 3/24/14 (sportsclubstats.com)

Latest Playoff % for NYR as of 3/24/14 (sportsclubstats.com)

Also with teams still close to the Rangers in the standings including Toronto, Washington, Columbus, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Detroit, whoever gets hot at the right time could knock out any of the other teams. Marc Staal was reported saying “You have to get traction now. Look at the standings, everyone wins or gets points every night. It’s time to get down to business and start stringing some wins together.”

Phoenix tag line this season has been “hungrier than ever” and with the Coyotes currently in the last wild card spot with a game in hand and two points in front of Dallas, the Yotes will need every point possible. Phoenix already lost to the red hot Bruins, and will look to rebound against the Rangers in the Garden where the Blueshirts have played mediocre hockey this season.

However, NY has been playing like men possessed in all facets lately, as Raphael Diaz fresh off his first start is making that old #4 sweater look great. Diaz looks capable of becoming the team’s power play quarterback, but it is his first game and I encourage Rangers’ fans to temper their expectations a little bit. Derrick Brassard (4 points in last three games), Rick Nash (Scored the GWG against NJ on Saturday), and Derek Stepan (3 game goal streak), have been lighting the lamp and solid defense from McDonagh, Girardi, and company have been making opponents jobs difficult on seemingly every shift. If the Rangers can keep playing aggressive and continue to generate quality scoring chances these Rangers can play with any team in the league. The Rangers must stay motivated for the rest of the season and into the playoffs if New York is going to party like its 1994.

Full Tilt Forecast: This game will be radically different from the first game of the season (PHX 4- NYR 1) and will have the good guys coming out on top. Rangers win 3-1. I predict goals from St. Louis (Finally!), Hagelin, and Richards.

So with the St. Louis and Stepan playing with the flu, they remain game time decisions, and I’d suspect that both would be out to rest up for the Flyers game. The Rangers could vary well find themselves without two of their top six forwards. J.T. Miller will be called up and hopefully can provide a spark like he did last time he was called up to the roster. Derek Dorsett will also likely join in the fray as well. The Rangers will need every player to step up in order to continue their playoff push. I still think the Rangers can still beat the Coyotes but this game is now a lot tougher than before. NYR win 3-2 in a shootout. Goals by Krieder and Carcillo.

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