The Rangers Avoid a Sad Case of Deja Vu

Shootout win keeps them two points clear of Hurricanes.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    The Rangers found their spine in the face of total collapse.

    It all felt a bit too familiar for the Rangers on Sunday.

    They were about to take part in a shootout on a Sunday afternoon in April in Philadelphia with their playoff future hanging in the balance. In 2010, the game ended with the Flyers celebrating and the Rangers licking their wounds and heading for the golf course.

    It wasn't exactly the same situation this Sunday as the Rangers still had games left on the regular season schedule regardless of the result. But with their once safe playoff position down to a single point (pending Carolina's result), it had to feel pretty similar when the skills contest got underway in Philly.

    It feels very different right now. Wojtek Wolski got the goal, Henrik Lundqvist slammed the door and the Rangers left town with a 3-2 victory that would ultimately leave them two points clear of the Hurricanes entering Monday night's game with the Bruins.

    That's not a tremendous amount of breathing room. The Rangers have three games left, all at home, and really need to get points in every one of them to assure themselves a ticket to the postseason.

    Still, the team is headed in the right direction. Not just in the standings, but also in the effort department after Thursday night's horrendous outing against the Islanders made you wonder if the team had completely lost its identity. 

    They didn't, as evidenced by Marc Staal's broken nose costing him exactly zero shifts. Sunday saw the Rangers outworking the Flyers on both ends, doing whatever it took to block shots or break up passes and leaving the rest to Lundqvist. 

    That's going to have to continue to be the blueprint because the Rangers really can't score enough goals to overcome any more nights like the one Lundqvist had on Long Island. 

    We doubted they could pull it off on Thursday night, but it seems having their backs against the wall agrees with the Rangers.  

    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.