Critical Stretch of the Season This Week

Two straight shutouts. Offensive ineptitude on a grand scale. No sign of desperation. And with just 14 games remaining, the door is slowly starting to close.

These are your New York Rangers.

Now you can look at this two ways. The glass half-full person will say despite the recent stretch of losing, New York is still in a playoff position and can turn things around quickly by scoring a few goals and winning some hockey games. Not impossible.

The glass half-empty person, which represents the nearly the entire NYR fan base, wants John Tortorella's head on a sliver platter, held by none other than Sean Avery. The "system" which won a Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay is not the winning idea in New York and it's time to get rid of him.

Excuse the hyperbole, but once you think about it, the situation isn't that dire. Yet, this week could prove to be the make or break point for the Rangers' season.

A Monday night home contest against the Winnipeg Jets followed by a home-and-home with the conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins. The optimistic person here could say "New York likes to play up or down to the level of their competition. They could get some points here." Very true, as it usually is the case with this team. However, the Rangers are a combined 0-5 against both clubs this year, outscored 7-19 including two shutouts.

Bear in mind these numbers for the Rangers: a record of 4-12-1 against teams in a playoff position. 10 of the team's remaining 14 games are against teams in a playoff spot. The tough just got going full speed.

It's not promising. In fact, it's daunting and without an immediate turnaround that includes moving up the standings could prove to be the beginning of the end for New York's playoff chances.

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About James Wrabel, Jr.