The Biggest X-Factors in the Remainder of New York Rangers' Regular Season
The New York Rangers have five games left in the regular season.
It would seem that a playoff spot is all but assured. The ninth-place team, Toronto, is eight points behind New York.
But the Rangers still need to enter the postseason playing well, and in order to do so, they will need a few players to really come through.
Who are the biggest X-factors for the remainder of the Rangers' regular season?
Read on to find out.
Martin St. Louis
Marty St. Louis finally scored.
After 15 games of glorious chances and near misses, St. Louis finally scored his first goal as a Ranger, a shorthanded goal Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Rangers have to be hoping that this brings out the best in St. Louis. After all, he wasn't playing poorly. The team is 10-4-1 since acquiring him.
But now that he's scored? It could be a game changer.
If the Rangers can get the version of St. Louis that scored 29 goals in 62 games for Tampa Bay, then the Eastern Conference needs to look out.
Because as it is, the Rangers are one of the top threats to knock off the Boston Bruins, which look like the class of the East. If St. Louis starts scoring like his resume suggests, then New York will essentially acquire one of the best scorers in the game—again.
In 18 games since the Olympic break, Rick Nash has seven goals and four assists.
Certainly not bad. It's a little over a point every other game.
But the Rangers will need Nash to play the way he did against Columbus in mid-March, when he was a physical force. Even though he didn't score in that game, Nash was by far the best player on the ice, using his big body to wreak havoc.
We have seen that since, but I think there's another level for Nash. Since the Rangers acquired him in the summer of 2012, Nash has scored 46 goals. In 2003-04 with the Blue Jackets, his second season in the league, Nash scored 41 goals.
He's on pace for his lowest full-season point total since his rookie year.
So Nash needs to find that next level, where he is dominating the game and is the best player on the ice. On skill alone, he's usually the best player on the ice, but he doesn't always play like that.
The Rangers need Nash to be at his best. If he is, he can carry this team far. If not, it could be a quick postseason exit.
With Chris Kreider injured, the Rangers need to find some more offense.
An unlikely source? Dominic Moore.
Quietly, Moore has turned into one of the Rangers' most reliable forwards.
After missing last season due to the death of his wife, Moore was nominated by the New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association for the Masterton Trophy, given to the player who demonstrates perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, as per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.
“I like to push the pace," Moore told Leonard. "That’s been my game, but I couldn’t do it at the beginning of the year. It just wasn’t there. But I’ve gotten a lot of that back, and (speed) is a trademark of our style and AV’s game.”
Moore has played quite well since the Olympic break with six points. He is centering the Rangers' fourth line, a line—alongside Derek Dorsett and Brian Boyle—that has been the most energetic the last few weeks.
Besides being defensively responsible, Moore has the speed to be a factor on top lines. He was on a line with Brad Richards and St. Louis Tuesday night against Vancouver. He's not as big as Kreider, but I think he could help out some of the Rangers' most offensively inclined forwards.