Five points separate the Rangers from the top spot in their conference.
Five points also separate the Rangers from being an also-ran.
The Blueshirts have won four straight, dating back to last Saturday and are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference at 7-1-2. Perhaps more importantly, their record has been the awakening of the dormant Ranger offense, which scored at least four goals in all of their victories over the past eight days.
The NHL as a whole was busy this past week with the trading deadline, and the Rangers were a part of that frenzy.
One of their moves involved a Hossa, sending the less-talented Marcel out to Phoenix. It also saw the departure of a former first-round draft pick, goaltender Al Montoya, in the same deal.
Though somewhat surprising that a goaltender with so much promise brought back seemingly little, the Rangers may have done themselves a favor by not changing the fabric of their team, while still showing the veterans who is pining for the Stanley Cup, and that the team is intent on winning.
Newcomers Christian Backman and Fredrik Sjostrom have already made their way into the lineup and onto the score sheet. Backman and the Madison Square Garden penalty box should also become well acquainted, with another newcomer, Josh Gratton, also set to spiff up the décor of the sin bin.
The Rangers’ approach this week seems to have been a successful one. Hit hard, shoot often, and take care of your own end. The Flyers had more success than others breaking through the Rangers’ defense, but the Blueshirts stepped up when backup goaltender Stephen Valiquette was summoned to save the day.
This week, the Rangers face off against the cross-town rival Islanders, who are currently on the outside looking in on the playoff picture. The Isles have been tough on the Rangers since the return from the strike and this week should be no exception.