Lost in all the Madness this weekend were a pair of playoff-caliber wins for the Rangers as they continue to jockey for post-season position. Although midget Marty was still a ghost on the stat sheet, Rick Nash went berserk in his return to Columbus & ignited his team to a 3rd period comeback before scoring the game-winner at The Rock Saturday. To no one’s surprise though, Henrik Lundqvist is the biggest reason why the Blueshirts now have a 3-point cushion for the final Metro playoff spot. His recent play is why, with an offensive breakout, the Blueshirts could be a dark horse in the East. When he set the Rangers all-time shutout record right in Brodeur’s living room on Saturday, Hank went to 6-2 in his last 8 (including a 1-0 L to the Sharks). Guy’s stopped almost 95% of pucks he’s seen over that stretch & has hit his stride after a bumpy Olympic return.
He’ll have to keep that up tonight against Phoenix. As if the Blueshirts scoring woes weren’t bad enough, they might have to battle the Yotes without Derek Stepan. Step’s been, by far, the team’s top point-producer since the Olympics – but a flu bug might keep him off the ice tonight. Martin St. Louis may also sit with the sniffles, but apparently that’s not gonna make a fucking difference so who cares. John Moore’s concussion is gonna keep him out tonight too, but Raphael Diaz’s stellar 16-minute debut on Saturday could leave Moore in the press box for good. Although he didn’t register a point, he shined on the power play with his decisive puck movement – a welcome change to a relatively stagnant, hesitant unit. Over their last 10 games, the Rangers have scored 3 PPG’s…all 3 by Stepan…one of which was an empty-netter. So if Diaz or anyone else wants to help manufacture a goal or two for The King tonight, feel free. The way he’s been tending lately, he’ll make it work.