New York Rangers: The Team's 5 Most Important Games of the NHL's 2nd Half

Scott AbusoCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2012

New York Rangers: The Team's 5 Most Important Games of the NHL's 2nd Half

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    The New York Rangers have been almost unstoppable this year.

    They've sat comfortably in the top of the Eastern Conference and NHL standings for some time now, and hope to carry that success through the rest of the season.

    If the Broadway Blueshirts wish to secure the Presidents' Cup comes season's end, they have a few matchups from which they must emerge victorious.

    The following are the five most important of these games, in order of increasing importance.

5. Rangers vs. Flyers: Feb. 5

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    The Philadelphia Flyers have always been a formidable opponent to the New York Rangers.

    A strong division and conference rival, the Flyers are looking to hold their spot in the playoffs.

    This is the first time these two teams will meet since they collided at the 2012 NHL Winter Classic, a hard-fought, outstanding hockey game. 

    This renewed rivalry will certainly be a great game, and the Rangers would love to earn two points on the Flyers to push themselves further up the standings while playing a hand in knocking Philadelphia down a peg or two.   

4. Rangers vs. Bruins: Feb. 14

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    This game will mark only the second time this season that the two best teams in the Eastern Conference will face off.

    Their last meeting saw the Rangers come away with a 3-2 win in OT, and it proved to be an intense, emotional battle. 

    The game was obviously very close throughout, and it will be interesting to see which team comes out on top in the second of their four meetings.

    A win in this matchup would be an excellent confidence booster, and a big momentum builder for the Rangers.

3. Rangers vs. Red Wings: March 21

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    The two (currently) best teams in their respective conferences, a battle between the Rangers and Detroit Red Wings would be nothing short of epic. 

    Both teams are the owners of outstanding goaltending and superb defense.  The Red Wings hold the offensive edge.  

    In a battle where the victor would hold the unofficial bragging rights of being "best in the NHL," a win by the Rangers would be an outstanding confidence boost.

    Also, with the Red Wings being a tough opponent, and points being crucial to gain as the season winds down, it would bode well for the Blueshirts if they came away with a win. 

2. Rangers vs. Penguins: April 5

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    A strong Eastern Conference and Atlantic divisional opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins will prove to be a tough opponent for the Rangers.

    Marc-Andre Fleury is a great goalie.  Evgeni Malkin has also stepped up big time for the team, which is currently without their captain Sidney Crosby.

    This is the Rangers' second-to-last game of the season.

    If they were looking to secure a first-place lead, or at least a playoff spot, this would be a crucial game to secure the "W" and earn two points in.

1. Rangers vs. Bruins: April 1

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    I know a game between these two teams has already been on this list.

    This game, however, is probably the most important game for the Rangers in the second half of the season.

    This game is one of four that will be played in April, right before the playoffs begin.  

    Assuming the Rangers and the Bruins remain the best teams in their conference, a win in this matchup would be a huge momentum builder heading into the playoffs.

    Not just for confidence, as the points earned by either side at the end of the game would probably have a say in who wins the conference.

    The Rangers would most certainly want to emerge from this one victorious.