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While mathematically still alive, the Rangers were dealt a crushing blow with tonights loss. Coupled with the Flyers win the Rangers sit 4 points behind the Flyers with 3 games remaining (the Flyers only have 2 left). The Rangers absolutely must win tomorrow or else they are mathematically eliminated from catching the Flyers and thus they no longer can control their own fate. To make matters worse, even if the Rangers beat the Leafs tomorrow they will also need to give up no more than 1 point to the Flyers in the final 2 games. Doable? Of course. But, these are the Rangers we are talking about, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

While watching this game, all I could think to myself is, sheesh, if the Rangers do not sign Ilya Kovalchuk next year, we are going to see the same shitshow again. I mean, seriously, here is the way to beat the Rangers. Step 1, shut down Gaborik, Step 2, score 2 or more goals against Lundqvist. Enjoy win. And if Henrik Lundqvist is not 100% on his game, you really only need to shut down Gaborik to coast to a win. Why? Because it all comes down to this simple fundamental law of hockey. Your highest paid players HAVE to be the best players on your team. One could argue that 3 of the top 5 paid Rangers on the team are among their worst players…Jokinen, Drury, and Redden. Your high paid players need to be options out there. It’s like building a house, you need your strong base to count on when things are stormy outside. If you build your house out of a stack of cards the house will blow over. That is what the Rangers have done. Redden, Drury, Jokinen, these guys are not foundation players. Luckily Jokinen is all but gone after this season, but what about those other 2? They are seemingly here for many many years to come.

This is why it is imperative for the Rangers to bring in Ilya Kovalchuk. I know people always talk about trying to get a #1 center, and we can worry about that at a later time, but here we have the chance to get a true blue elite #1 forward. Like Gaborik Kovalchuk is inarguably one of the 5 most offensively talented players in the NHL today. We have the chance to sign him through his prime years, and we absolutely must do it. If we have Kovalchuk, Gaborik, and Lundqvist all under contract for the next 4 years, we have 4 years where we can be legit contenders. We would have the sturdy base, and we would also have the prospects to fill in around them to balance out the team. Teams who are focusing solely on Gaborik will be torched when Kovalchuk is out there against their 2nd pairing defenseman. Teams that manage to put 2 past Henrik will no longer coast to a 2-1 victory as having that elite sniper would make us a far more dangerous offensive club.

The wins in the past 5 or 6 games were a result of our schedule, as I have tried to beat over the sunshiners heads over on the HFBoards. Yes, the schedule is what it is, but you need to look past wins and losses. For the most part, the Rangers play is pretty much the same, except we had played against teams where the goaltending was borderline awful. Tonight we played a much better team, and were run out the building. Again, because we have only 2 options out there. Both weren’t on top of their games, and we felt the ass kicking all the way here in Atlanta.

The Rangers must at all costs bring in Kovalchuk, they must, at all costs get rid of Wade Redden. We probably should consider buying out Drury as well, though simply waiting for his contract to expire might be the smarter thing to do. Either way you slice it, this is a monumental offseason ahead of us, with the results likely to set the tone of the next 4 years. If the Rangers do not sign Kovalchuk, this team you see now, will basically be what you see year in and year out. A 9th place team.

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