Toronto Maple Leafs Hand New York Rangers Lucky Break

New York Hockey Daily@nyhockeydailyContributor IApril 8, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 07:  Jonas Gustavsson #50 and Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs combine to stop Chris Drury #23 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on April 7, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

“We wanted to make the Philly games count.”

Those were the words from head coach John Tortorella after last night’s 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

24 hours after being schooled at the hands of a strong Buffalo Sabres team, the New York Rangers faced an opponent more their speed. The result was another facade-inducing victory, much like the five-goal “explosions” against the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.

Like those two contests, the victory over the Maple Leafs would seem to suggest a powerhouse Ranger offense that, upon closer inspection, simply doesn’t exist.

Toronto crumbled like a Drake’s Coffee Cake at the first sign of pressure last night, throwing goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to the wolves from the opening faceoff. They turned the puck over routinely in the neutral zone, their own-zone play was miserable, and their offense was practically non-existant.

Whether or not the laughable Leafs put up much of a fight, however, is of no concern to the Rangers. With the season down to just two games—a home-and-home series against the hated Philadelphia Flyers—the Rangers got what they wanted: Their fate rests in their hands.

Just win, baby.

That’s all the Rangers need to do now. Should the Broadway Blueshirts defeat the Flyers in both games, then their long march to the postseason will end in success.

After last night’s action, here is an updated look at the standings:

6. Montreal Canadeins—87 points, two games remaining

7. Philadelphia Flyers—86 points, two games remaining

8. Boston Bruins—85 points, two games remaining

9. New York Rangers—84 points, two games remaining

10. Atlanta Thrashers—81 points, two games remaining

What kind of effect will a game like last night’s have on the Rangers strategy against Philadelphia?

Sure, give the Rangers credit for taking advantage of the mistakes made by the Maple Leafs. The Rangers forechecked hard and gobbled up loose pucks all game long, but the majority of their goals came off short plays or through transition.

As has become customary over the last couple of years, the Rangers showed almost no ability to anchor themselves in the opposition’s zone and develop consistent offense.

Though the Flyers have struggled mightily over the last few weeks, helping keep the Rangers’ playoff hopes alive, it’s difficult to believe they won’t come out fired up for these final two games.

After all, it’s their season, too.

The Flyers goaltending is their biggest issue, but their skaters are still an impressive group.

Will the Rangers be able to adjust their plan of attack?

If they can’t, they better hope the Bruins mess up, or else it’ll be the Blueshirts hitting the links next week.


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