New York Rangers

The New York Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 3-2, but a scary hit to Dan Girardi has fans worried about the future.

By Chris Wengert

The New York Rangers may have won the game, but they may have potentially lost a very important piece to their puzzle.

When you think of the Rangers’ players who have received the most slack throughout the season, Dan Girardi has to be at the top of the list.

But it was amazing to see how the fans reacted after the Ranger warrior was hit awkwardly into the end board by none other than former Ranger, Brian Boyle.

I guess you just don’t know what you have until it’s possibly gone?

Ironically enough, there seemed to be much more of a reaction to Girardi’s possible injury than when Ryan McDonagh left the ice during the first period of the Columbus game.

Yes, Girardi is one of the worst Rangers’ to ever walk through Madison Square Garden in the eyes of the advanced stat folks, but he is still invaluable to this Rangers’ team, especially when it comes to chemistry.

Rangers 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Final: Stepan, Hank, Youth Fuel Blueshirts (Highlights)

Not to mention that the defense is weak to begin with, so removing yet another piece could potentially be disastrous.

Speaking of McDonagh, it has been a tough couple of years for the struggling Rangers’ captain.

Last year it was a broken foot and now it’s a broken bone in his hand. While there is a possibility that McDonagh could return if the Rangers make a deep playoff run, I highly doubt that Mac would be anything more than serviceable.

We have previously witnessed how ineffective players often are after returning from injuries for the playoffs, whether it be Kevin Klein or Marty St. Louis.

The speed and physicality of the game is just too much for players to catch up to in April and May.

But I digress…

The Rangers must have wanted to give their penalty kill some practice, because they gifted a banged up Tampa Bay team with eight minutes of power play time in the first period alone.

And no matter how you slice it, Rick Nash has had a positive influence on the penalty kill unit.

Before you say it, I understand that Nash isn’t paid 7.5MIL to kill penalties but you can’t ignore the success of the PK since his return.

But Tampa Bay did score two goals in the first period, one of which was a power play goal.

It may be a blessing in disguise that Brady Skjei is seeing some ice now before the playoffs begin, because the first Tampa Bay goal was a result of the rookie defensman having been caught in no-mans land.

Viktor Stalberg is somewhat guilty as well, as both players were covering one man which left Andrej Sustr all alone in the high slot.

Another day, some more blown coverage in the slot.

I understand that you can’t put the blame a rookie defenceman for making mistakes but Skjei is going to have to put on his big boy pants, especially if Girardi and McDonagh are both injured.

Henrik Lundqvist was once again King Henrik Lundqvist in a season where you never know which goalie will show up for the Blueshirts.

He easily kept the Rangers in what could have been a 5-2 Lightning game at times.

How about that Derek Stepan? Don’t look now, but that is what a number one center looks like, despite what his critics say.

Stepan has had a knack for scoring big goals in big moments, and last night’s game was no different. Hopefully the momentum will continue through the next couple of weeks.

If I had to describe the identity of this Rangers team, it would have to be resiliency.

This team has showed that it is never out of a game, no matter what the score is. That is a big boost of confidence that the players can have in their back pocket throughout a long playoff series.

We have witnessed comebacks from this team in the past few years and knowing that they are still capable of such a comeback may just come in handy.

But a four game sweep would be the best case scenario.

Wishful thinking?

NEXT: Only This Guy Can Appropriately Describe What New York Rangers Fans Are Feeling (Video)
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Chris Wengert
I've been a die hard Rangers and Giants fan for as long as I can remember. I enjoy sharing opinions, and hearing from fans that love their teams just as much as I do. Henrik Lundqvist makes all of us look like mere mortals. E-mail me at: Chris.Wengert@elitesportsny.com