The Rangers Somehow Control Their Own Destiny

Two games with Flyers will decide fate

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Apr 8, 2010  |  Updated 5:30 PM EDT
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The Rangers Somehow Control Their Own Destiny

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The maddening Rangers continued their Lazarus-like return to the NHL playoff picture on Wednesday night by dominating the Maple Leafs for 60 minutes en route to a 5-1 victory.

That means they are in total control of whether or not they make the playoffs entering a season-ending pair of games with the Flyers.

That such a situation exists after the team was left for dead three weeks ago would be surprising enough to make you wonder if you could believe your eyes. The fact that it came to fruition less than 24 hours after the team was humiliated by Buffalo makes the whole thing as gobsmackingly unbelievable as a Michael Bay movie. 

What a maddening team these Rangers have turned out to be this year. After a hot start, they fell into a rut marked by apathy and listlessness similar to the one that forced out Tom Renney and brought John Tortorella into the team. The Rangers pulled out a playoff spot by the skin of their teeth after that change and now could wind up doing the same thing again after jerking the wheel and avoiding the cliff at the last possible second.

Is that even a good thing? Generally speaking, it's better to have a chance, no matter how slim, of making noise in the playoffs than find your season ending with Game 82. For these Rangers, though, it's hard to see how this qualifies as anything but a disappointment. They've meandered about for an entire season to wind up in essentially the same place they were at the end of last year by turning on the jets late.

What's it going to take to get this team to turn on the jets when the season starts and leave them on? It's hard to believe Tortorella is capable of doing it and Glen Sather is out of chances to prove that he still has the personnel touch that birthed the Oilers dynasty in the 80's. What's more, making the playoffs will only guarantee at least two more gates for James Dolan and that money will surely wind up being enough for the owner to justify bringing the band back for another engagement next season.

That's not exactly an idea filled with excitement. This isn't a young team that gelled late nor was it a team floundering until it was saved by a deadline trade. It's been, more or less, the same team the entire time with the only difference being their willingness to put forth maximum effort in the final weeks.

Maybe that's good enough to squeak into the playoffs, but it isn't good enough to justify the status quo that's reigned at the Garden for so long.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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