After an impressive W over the rival Flyers Wednesday, the Rangers are sitting pretty. They all but guaranteed themselves a post-season invite – now it’s time to make sure it’s not to a first-round party hosted by the B’s. Sure, any team outside of Boston looking to represent the Eastern Conference will most likely have to go through them. Softening up the top seed a bit with a round or two of playoff hockey though might give that team a better shot at the upset. If the Blueshirts can protect their lead over Metro squads chasing them with games in hand, a potential date with the Bruins will be postponed. They’ll get the opportunity to hold their ground with one of the league’s best road records against patsies like the Flames & Oilers. Could these be trap games?
Not if Ryan McDonagh can help it. Lundqvist obviously deserves a ton of credit – he’s been a wall. But when Callahan was shipped to Tampa, no one knew for sure who would step in & fill his leadership skates. I think the 24 year-old Olympic defenseman has answered those questions clearly. McD’s always been a shutdown defender – but over the Rangers’ last 13 crucial games, when they’ve needed it most, he’s raised his all-around game to Norris-caliber status. Over that span, #27 has rung up 6 goals & 7 assists. Most of those goals have been in big spots, with 3 game-winners during this 5-game win streak. McDonagh’s 43 points are a top-10 total for a blueliner. His increase in production combined with his work against opponent’s top forwards might get him Norris consideration soon. His clutch play should undoubtedly put a C on his sweater next year. For now, though, all the kid needs to do is make sure his Blueshirts stay hot while visiting some of the league’s worst.
Thanks again, Montreal.