The New York Rangers are fumbling and stumbling their way into the playoffs. A strong finish to the season in the coming days is just what the Rangers need. Momentum at the end of the season has proven to be a potent weapon for playoff teams. Something definitely feels off on the Rangers this season. Henrik Lundqvist has not looked like Henrik Lundqvist. I can’t recall the last time the Rangers have had to rely on their offense and not the defense to get the job done. The Ranger offense has been the catalyst this season, while their defensive efforts have taken a backseat.
The clock is running out for Henrik and he may not have many more opportunities to capture the top trophy in hockey, the Stanley Cup. Just because the Rangers have been in a bit of funk, with three straight losses, doesn’t mean that I’m going to sleep on them. I don’t think the Rangers are going to be hoisting the Cup, but they won’t be suffering a 0-4 sweep in the first round either. They catch a team tonight who would love to be in the Rangers position.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will finish up the season and turn their attention to next season immediately. There will be no playoffs for the Jackets. The silver lining in this season, if you want to call it that, is that they could have had an even worse season. Quick thinking by management to hire John Tortorella as head coach a few weeks into the season saved them a lot of headaches. The brunt of the work for him and his team is going to take place this offseason. Columbus isn’t exactly a prime location for free agents to want to go to. We’ll see if Tortorella has anything up his sleeve.
It appears that the Blue Jackets will be picking high in the draft this season, so they do have that going their way. And with a little luck, they could win the draft lottery and end up with the top pick in the draft. I can hear the screech from Maple Leafs’ fans through my laptop screen as I’m writing this. With that said, it would be in the Blue Jackets best interest to lose tonight. I continue my write-up below for tonight.
N.Y. Rangers vs. Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Pick
The Blue Jackets have been in full tank mode lately. I think they’ve given up on this season and are looking forward to the offseason. They showed up for a game in their last outing, in a 5-1 rout of the Carolina Panthers. Prior though, they were riding a four-game losing skid and losers in six of their last seven games. In their last ten games, the Blue Jackets’ defense has been taking a beating, allowing 3.10 goals per game. They allowed an average of 4 goals a game during the four-game streak. The Jackets offense was sputtering as well, as they produced only 2.20 goals per game in their last ten. The 5 goals against Carolina was something different for them.
The Rangers have been playing good hockey on the offensive end, scoring 3.10 goals themselves. However, as I alluded to, the defense has not been a strength for them this season, a little uncharacteristic. They scored 3.10 goals per game but allowed 3.10, which amounted to a 4-6 record in their last ten games. They need to show up and put a beating on in the worst way possible. Lundqvist needs to find a rhythm for the playoffs. At least for tonight, I think the Rangers should be able to look like a team ready to begin the NHL playoffs. I see a 2 or 3 goal victory for the Rangers in Columbus tonight.
PICK: RANGERS -1.5 (+125)