Accentuating the Rangers' Positives - NBC New York

Accentuating the Rangers' Positives

In a short season, two points will matter a great deal



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    The Rangers came awfully close to losing their footing on Tuesday night.

    Tuesday night's 4-3 shootout win over the Bruins could leave you feeling good about the Rangers, feeling bad about the Rangers or feeling confused about the Rangers. 

    You should feel good about the 3-0 lead they built through the first two and a half periods of play. You should also feel good about Rick Nash's spectacular play to set up Carl Hagelin for the team's first goal and the way that duo seems to be settling into a plentiful scoring partnership for the team. 

    The other two Rangers goals came from Derek Stepan and Anton Stralman, which means that the Rangers were getting contributions from multiple levels of their lineup. That's been a problem at points this season, but the Rangers spent most of the night rolling with all of their players and not seeing tremendous drops in effectiveness with any of the personnel groups. 

    The bad feelings come when you think about the Bruins scoring two goals in less than a minute with their goalie pulled in the final moments of the third period to turn a fairly easy Rangers win into an overtime game that came with the possibility of leaving with just one point. It would have been a horrid result for the Rangers, especially since their own sloppiness left the door open for the Bruins. 

    There was another too many men on the ice penalty and another blown 5-on-3 power play opportunity that kept the Rangers from running up their lead even more than they were able to do on their own. Nash played well all night and he stuffed home his shootout attempt, but he took a bad hooking penalty to help the Bruins grab momentum that they turned into their first goal of the game halfway through the third. 

    Mostly, though, you can feel good about the existence of the shootout and the extra point it bestowed on the Rangers after Ryan Callahan ended the game with a shot past Tukka Rask. At another point in hockey history, this is one point for the Rangers that feels like a loss and one point for the Bruins that feels like a win. 

    Under current rules, however, the Rangers get the extra point because they won a postgame skills challenge and that extra point is the type of thing that should come in handy in this abbreviated season. There are only 96 points available to every team in the league, so leaving any of them on the table in a league where there are plenty of three-point nights is a good way to wind up with a bad seed or out of the playoffs altogether. 

    With the exception of the Blackhawks, who are yet to lose in regulation, every team in the NHL has between nine and 19 points at this point in the season. Ten of the teams in the Eastern Conference, including the Bruins and Rangers, have between 13 and 19 points. 

    That's not a forgiving environment to call hope and it can turn downright inhospitable if you don't make sure to claim every possible advantage available to you over the course of the season. So you grab the two points and don't bother looking back at the fact that it was either highway robbery or a lucky break on a night when the Rangers tried to give away a game. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.