New York Rangers Allowing It to Be Close to the End

Kevin PapaCorrespondent IApril 4, 2009

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 26:  Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers skates with the puck against the Florida Panthers on February 26, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

With every loss, the New York Rangers allow the Florida Panthers that much more room to take the eighth playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Standing at 40-30-9, the Blueshirts need every point they can get out of the three grueling match-ups they have coming up. Florida, at 38-29-11, are two points behind the Rangers with a game in hand.

The deciding factor is going to be how each team performs against strong opponents. With two against the Flyers and one versus the hot Canadiens, it can't get much more difficult.

However, the Panthers also have difficult opponents in the Capitals, streaking Thrashers, Flyers, and Penguins. This could provide a challenge for either team, and with the Rangers still in eighth, they need to win at least two or their last three.

The major concern for these particular teams and eventually the playoffs is the anemic offense. Even with Lundqvist at his best, the Rangers have to find ways to score, especially on the man advantage. If they can couple a strong, consistent offense with Lundqvist's outstanding goaltending, they might just find a way to finish this season with a playoff berth.