It's Been a Rough 72 Hours in Rangerland

Islanders play spoiler to their rivals on Thursday night

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Apr 1, 2011  |  Updated 7:54 AM EDT
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It's Been a Rough 72 Hours in Rangerland

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The last 72 hours haven't been kind to the Rangers.

The ice is melting under the Rangers' feet.

On Tuesday, they woke up in seventh place with serious designs on making a run for fifth place in the Eastern Conference and no worries about losing their playoff spot altogether. Friday morning finds them scrambling to hold onto a playoff spot.

That's what happens when you get blitzed 6-2 by an Islanders team that simply wanted a victory more than you did on Thursday night. That the Islanders played hard is no surprise as they have done so all season. 

But they've got nothing to play for at this point in the season while the Rangers have their entire season on the brink of falling over the side of a cliff. And the only reason the Rangers haven't already gone over the cliff is because they've worked so exceptionally hard all season.

Along with Henrik Lundqvist, that's why people continued to believe in the Rangers. Even as the team's scoring went totally down the drain -- five goals over the last five games -- the feeling was that they would never get outhustled on the ice.

That wasn't the case on Thursday and it came in hand with a rare bad outing from the King. Lundqvist is allowed a bad night, painful as it is, but the rest of the team can't take nights off from the grind and hope to extend their season.

The only time they woke up all night was to engage in four fights with their eternal rivals in the third period and that was long after the game was decided. While it fit in with the historical nature of games between the two teams, it was a bit like watching your cab driver finally start letting the throttle go 15 minutes after you already missed your flight.

With four games left to play, the Rangers now have a three-point lead over the Hurricanes who have a game in hand. Even if the effort returns, that's a thin margin to protect when you can't score a goal.

What a difference 72 hours can make in a long hockey season. With the Flyers looming on Sunday, the Rangers have just that long to turn it around again.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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