New York Rangers Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The New York Rangers lost for the ninth time in the last 12 games and now are looking at reality square in the face. They are not a good hockey team.

We have seen this happen time and time again.

Careless turnovers lead to high-quality chances and eventually pucks in the back of the New York Rangers net. Henrik Lundqvist begins to over think the situation, tries to do too much, then the next thing we see is Alexandar Gerogiev in goal as Hank is pulled yet again.

Then the inevitable occurs as the Rangers lose another game.

For the 32nd time this season and the 19th time on the road, the Rangers lost a hockey game. Their most recent loss came Thursday night at the hands of the first place Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-3. That loss was the epitome of the team’s season-long struggle. Outplayed and outscored for the for periods one and two, then the comeback falls short as the Rangers loss again and again.

The Rangers roller-coaster of a season is in its last 14 games now. Sitting nine points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild-card spot, the playoff window is closing fast. The team is now realizing what many have believed for some time: this is not a playoff hockey team.

New York Rangers

Following the loss in Tampa Bay, Mats Zuccarello, a Ranger veteran for eight seasons, told Newsday’s Colin Stephenson what many fans have been thinking since January.

“Today, in the two first periods of the game, you saw the difference between a bottom team and a top team. They were better in all the aspects of the game. That’s just how it is.” — Mats Zuccarello

Candid words from the Rangers forward.

In the aftermath of the trades made at the end of last month, these words were more from the leader of the team than just a forward. A fan favorite, Zuccarello, has the respect of his teammates, organization and the fans of the New York Rangers.

Maybe it’s a wake-up call to the team, that with 14 games left the team needs to play hard and try to finish up strong.

Most likely, the statement has come from a hard-working forward who has not lived up to expectations this season. A player who finally may realize that the team just doesn’t have what it takes to win when the “good” teams come out to play.

The team may be rebuilding, but the Rangers team that is on the ice now has to find a way to prove to themselves that they can at least battle with the better teams in the NHL. They have 14 games to show the organization that they still know how to fight and stand up for one another.

The truth may hurt, but Mat Zuccarello’s words are the truth. Coming from this guys makes the reality of the situation so much harder to handle as a playoff-less spring approaches.

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