Saturday, April 20, 2013
Finally some 'puck luck' for Rangers
By Katie Strang
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Over the course of about 24 hours, the Rangers tallied 14 goals in back-to-back games against the Panthers and Sabres.
It was the type of much-needed outburst glaringly absent for much of the season for the offensively-inconsistent Rangers, even if there were a handful of deflections and flukey bounces among the lot.
But if there’s a time to be beneficiaries of some "puck luck," this is it, as the Rangers head into the last four games of the season on a 7-2-1 stretch.
"I think when you win, the players relax a little bit," coach John Tortorella said. "I think they’re playing with more confidence right now. And they should."
Beating up on their opponents the past two games bestowed some confidence upon the Rangers, who control their own destiny in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
"When offensive people put some number on the boards, score goals, it certainly makes them feel better," Tortorella said. "Hopefully, it will continue."
Alternate captain Brad Richards, held off the scoresheet in four straight games before Thursday’s 6-1 rout of the Panthers, now has four goals and five points over the last pair of wins.
His hat trick in Friday’s 8-4 drubbing of the Sabres was his first in 896 career games.
"You look at Brad; pucks are going in for him. Hopefully, that will relax him a little bit," Tortorella said. "Because, that’s one guy that cares."
Fighting to hold on to that last playoff spot -- and hoping to climb to a higher seed -- the Rangers face four opponents outside of the playoff race to close out the regular season. The Rangers play the Devils twice, as well as the Panthers and the Hurricanes.
"It doesn’t matter," Tortorella said. "One thing that’s great about our league -- the league is full of pride and these teams are going to play hard, all the time. There are no easy games here."
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Derek Dorsett practiced with the team Saturday in a yellow non-contact jersey and continued to make progress as he participated in shooting drills.
The 26-year-old winger, who suffered a broken collarbone while playing with Columbus back in March, is expected to undergo an x-ray next week.
Dorsett, acquired from the Blue Jackets at the trade deadline, still needs to be cleared for contact before he can narrow in on a return date.
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Injured defenseman Marc Staal, who has not played since being struck in the eye with a puck March 5, skated Saturday while trying out a tinted visor.
The visor is designed to eliminate glare from the ice, Staal said. He will continue wearing it as he skates and practices with the team until cleared to return.