There's Still Some Life Left in the Rangers

With season on brink, they've won four of the last five

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011  |  Updated 10:00 AM EDT
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There's Still Some Life Left in the Rangers

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The Rangers have done a lot to change the narrative of their franchise in the last couple of years.

Gone are the days when they rolled out a who's who of the league's biggest names, many of whom were past their prime and coasting on past glories without creating new ones.

Instead the Rangers have built themselves around hard workers like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal, with pinches of youth sprinkled around to keep the energy level high throughout the season.

That's a wise way to build a team but you're ultimately going to need a superstar or two to make it to the highest level of the game. The Rangers entered the season convinced they had two of them in Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist.

Things haven't quite played out like that, though. Lundqvist has been great, but Gaborik hasn't put up the kind of offensive numbers they've needed from him.

There have been injuries that kept him out of the lineup, yet Gaborik has seemed invisible far too often even when he's on the ice. That's been a dreadful problem for the Rangers because they simply don't have enough other scoring to make up for a lack of electricity from the winger.

Those goalless nights seemed to catch up with them recently, robbing the team of some energy and verve as a once-secure playoff spot fell into question.

It's looking like the slump is over. Gaborik has been a bigger and bigger factor in the last two weeks, culminating with a vintage night against the Islanders on Tuesday. He scored twice and peppered the Isles net with shots throughout the 6-3 victory that marked the Rangers' fourth win in the last five games.

Gaborik has now scored three times in the last two contests, both wins, and appears to be back into the groove that eluded him all season.

Perfect timing, since the other Rangers star continues to operate on a high level. Lundqvist stood on his head against the Sharks on Saturday night and he kept it up through the first period on Tuesday when the Rangers kept giving their rivals point blank chances.

It will take more than a hot goalie and a sniper to get the Rangers to make a run in the postseason, but having both is an awfully good place to start.

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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