Chris Kreider, Igor Shesterkin
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Rangers will find out what kind of hockey team they truly are with a brutal and busy month of February ahead.

Frank Curto

The New York Rangers are going to be tested in February. After the All-Star break and the bye week, they should be well-rested for the challenge. Withstanding some of the NHL’s best must be proven if they want to have any chance at participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Blueshirts will play hockey games 15 times in February, building up to the NHL trading deadline on Feb. 24. It’s a leap year, so there will be 29 days in the month, and 15 games in 29 days is still a brutal stretch.

The Rangers will have two days off in a row just twice next month. Those two instances will be the rare times the team can take a deep breath and refocus.

There Are No Holes In This Crazy Schedule

  • The Rangers have six home games at Madison Square Garden and nine games on the road.
  • The Blueshirts play six games against playoff-bound teams.
    • Feb. 3 vs. Dallas Stars
    • Feb. 11 at Winnipeg Jets
    • Feb. 14 at Columbus Blue Jackets
    • Feb. 16 vs. Boston Bruins
    • Feb. 21 at Carolina Hurricanes
    • Feb. 26 at New York Islanders
  • Three sets of back-to-back games.
    • Feb. 13 and Feb. 14 at Minnesota and at Columbus
    • Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 at Carolina and home against San Jose
    • The final set will be Feb. 27 and Feb. 28 at Montreal and at Philadelphia
  • The Rangers currently sit 11 points out of the second wild-card spot with 50 points.

Off-Ice Decisions Won’t Be Any Easier

The team’s on-ice performance won’t be the only storyline that takes center stage in February. The organization is now at a crossroads for a third consecutive season. The status of a few players will be determined in the upcoming weeks.

The big-name of course is All-Star forward Chris Kreider. An unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, the club and Kreider have been quiet on what lies ahead for the left-winger. He has been mentioned in plenty of rumors that have him headed to places like Boston and St. Louis.

Alexandar Georgiev, Ryan Strome, Jesper Fast and Pavel Buchnevich could be moved before the trade deadline.

Adding to the crazy month, the team has yet to fully address the three-goalie situation. Igor Shesterkin was sent to the AHL after the team’s last game on Jan. 21. He played for the Hartford Wolf Pack, winning back-to-back games last weekend.

Henrik Lundqvist has played in just one game in January, a 5-2 loss at St. Louis. The King has appeared in just 25 games this season, starting 23 of those. He has nine wins on the season and is on pace to play in the least amount of games in his career.

February is going to be a very busy month that, in more ways than one, will dictate how next season will look for the Rangers.

The Rangers could become big sellers if they don’t go on a hot streak out of the bye week. The team plays Feb. 1 in the second night of a home-at-home series with a fellow Original Six team, the Detroit Pistons.

Fans have been missing Rangers hockey for the last 10 days, but the pick will drop soon and the team will face a crucial stretch of games. It should be interesting to see how the rookies on the squad handle the most intense period of hockey they have experienced in their young careers.

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