The World Cup competition in the fall and the mandatory five-day respite have left every team scrambling to be at their competitive best in these less than ideal travel situations.
After an opening five minutes of impassioned play provided a 2-0 first period lead, the Rangers eventually lost in a shootout to Florida last night at The Garden. Now winless in their last six at home, the Rangers will play seven of their final 11 games on the road, where they have the league’s best record at 25-9-0.
Getting down to season crunch time it is important that the Blueshirts find a way to play with a little more urgency for a longer period of time within the confines of a 60-minute game. Regardless of where the game is being played.
Proving just how difficult it is for even the good teams to maintain self initiated standards of excellence over the course of 82 games, the Wild have won just once in their last six games. To some observers, the Wild may be the West’s version of Washington. Minnesota has a multitude of skill, speed, size and depth.
In their only meeting of the season the Wild thumped the Rangers 7-4 at The Garden, getting goals from seven different players.
3 KEYS TO RANGERS-WILD
1. 60 Minutes
It bears repeating. Over the course of a 60-minute game there will be ebbs and flows. It is important to minimize the damage when the tide turns against any team. The Rangers are no different. Competing on a higher plane over a longer period of time needs to be a foremost goal from here on in.
2. O From D
Minnesota’s blueline has contributed 105 points from the backend, while the Blueshirts rearguard has kicked in 119 points. The numbers favor the Rangers and the offensive contributions from both sets of “D” bear watching.
3. The Staals
In a rebirth of his career Eric Staal will play in his 999th career game and is carrying a hot hand with five points in his last four games. Eric drives the Wild’s top line and when matched up, Marc will need to be on his toes to keep his older brother in check.
Rangers-Wild tonight on MSG Network (TV) and ESPN 98.7 FM (Radio). Pre-game at 6:30, puck-drop a little after 7.
Check it out!