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SLY WILLIAMS
01-27-2009, 03:37 PM
Rangers know they can't relax

By Sam Weinman
The Journal News January 27, 2009

GREENBURGH - When the Rangers reconvened after the All-Star break yesterday, something was missing.

Henrik Lundqvist? No, the Rangers' lone representative in the mid-winter showcase was back on the ice with his teammates after being picked apart for six goals on 21 shots in Montreal Sunday night.

Intensity? No, that was there in the team's first skate in six days, a spirited 70-minute session that included a series of grueling sprints at the end.

Actually, what was missing was a familiar sense of desperation. As opposed to each of the previous two seasons, when the Rangers returned from the break outside the playoff picture and in need of a dramatic reversal of fortune, players had the luxury yesterday of pointing to a favorable position.

One point out of first place in the Atlantic Division and just three points out of second in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers might not need the same type of inspired run to qualify for a fourth consecutive postseason berth. Yet the point emphasized as they prepared for tonight's game at Madison Square Garden against the Carolina Hurricanes was that they can't afford to get comfortable.

"It was one of the things we addressed this morning," center Brandon Dubinsky said. "It's just a matter of what position we want to be in. Do we want to be a team in the playoffs, or do we want to be a team in the playoffs that has home-ice advantage the whole way? I think that's definitely our goal, and it'd be nice to put another in MSG for a division title."

With 60 points through 48 games, the Rangers are 10 points ahead of their pace of each of the past two seasons. Back then, any playoff spot would do. But now the team has its sights on home-ice advantage, something the team hasn't had in any playoff round since a 1996 opening-round series against Montreal.

"Our goal is to get well over 100 points this year. If we get that, we can get one of the top three spots in the conference," defenseman Paul Mara said. "Right now, if you look at the first four teams in the division, it's so tight. Every game is vitally important for us, and we're going in with that mind-set."

The Rangers currently sit in fifth place in the conference, a point ahead of Philadelphia. But they could move into third place in the conference with a win tonight and a Devils loss.

Of the Rangers' 34 remaining games, 11 will be against division opponents, including five against the Flyers.

"It's good to look at our record knowing we've achieved something. But we can't rest on that," coach Tom Renney said. "We have a lot of work to do against some formidable opponents.http://www.lohud.com/article/20090127/SPORTS01/901270392/-1/SPORTS

Ny rAnGeRS 4EvA
01-27-2009, 04:38 PM
I believe we will have a strong 2nd half . if we can stay healthy .. Gomer with the last week off should help alot even hank .... I still think we are missing somethin maybe a ruttu or a avery type player ... We need some much needed grit .... what do yous think ??