Monday, April 1, 2013
W2W4: Rangers vs. Jets
By Katie Strang
At a glance: After two straight shutout losses, the Rangers look to pick up the pieces Monday, when they return home to Madison Square Garden to host the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets.
Currently in eighth place, the slumping Blueshirts have the ninth-place Islanders nipping at their heels. The Islanders have a chance to pass their division rivals with a win over the New Jersey Devils in Newark, should the Rangers drop their third straight.
Fighting words: Following Saturday's 3-0 blanking in Montreal, former Ranger Sean Avery took to his official Twitter account to blast coach John Tortorella. Avery, a controversial winger who retired last season after being waived twice by the Rangers, tweeted "fire this CLOWN" and said the Rangers "hate" playing for the fiery Tortorella. Captain Ryan Callahan fired back the next day, releasing a statement that Avery does not speak for the team.
Deadline approaching: Monday will be the last chance for general manager Glen Sather and Rangers brass to evaluate the club before the NHL's trade deadline on Wednesday. Although the Rangers have never shied away from being aggressive shoppers on the big day -- they were engaged in discussions to land Rick Nash last season -- their recent play might dissuade Sather from going "all in."
Slim margin: Though they remain on top in the Southeast, the Jets also enter Monday's game on a two-game losing streak. The Jets lead both the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals by four points in their division. However, Carolina has three games in hand and Washington has one.
Players to watch: Winnipeg's Evander Kane has been impressive against the Rangers in the past. He has six goals and 10 points in 11 career games against New York, including a three-point game in the Jets' 4-3 win against the Rangers on Feb. 26. Meanwhile, first-line center Derek Stepan is the X-factor for the Rangers. Though he was held off the score sheet the past two games, Stepan had five points in the previous two.