Which Rangers team will show up tonight?
This seems to be the question surrounding the Blueshirts as their inconsistency has mounted all the way through this late winter recess.
A terrific victory against New Jersey followed by a disappointing loss to the Predators culminating in a gutsy OT victory in Pittsburgh.
This song has been sung all season.
But this afternoon would be a step in the right direction. At a .500 record of 27-27-7, the Rangers could get back in the win column while inching closer to returning to the playoff picture.
In their way stands Tampa Bay, who is filling the ninth seed at 63 points. The Rangers sit in 11th with 61.
So it's the critical four-point swing at stake on 7th Avenue this afternoon.
Tampa Bay has cooled down after a terrific run the past month, suffering back-to-back losses against the Islanders and Bruins. They are still 6 - 3 - 1 in their last 10 games.
Leading the Lightning revival is Vinny Lecavalier whose slow start found him outside the Olympic roster and in question with the team's new management.
But with 55 points in 60 games, the All-Star center has regained his confidence and seemingly his scoring touch. Second-year player Steven Stamkos is second on the team in points with 68, three points shy of Martin St. Louis' 71.
The last time these two teams met, the Rangers laid on an 8 - 2 rout, one of the lone scoring outbursts by New York all season.
Henrik Lundqvist will start tonight, but will be without Mike Del Zotto and Marian Gaborik as both continue to recover from lacerations.
Del Zotto took 50 stitches just below his heart after colliding with Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. Gaborik had a similar run-in with Lundqvist during practice.
Should the Rangers be able to muster the desperation they found against Pittsburgh, then they will go into the break with some growing confidence and a chance at the postseason.
More this afternoon on Twitter.
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