Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 11/3/14

The New York Rangers were understandably displeased with the outcome of Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at MSG, which cut their first place lead down to just four points in the Eastern Conference. But as was noted earlier today on the blog, that game served as a useful reality check for this hockey team, as they finally met their match in a team that is undoubtedly stronger and faster than themselves. It's something they needed - something that will better prepare them for the playoffs moving forward. It all depends on how they respond to that loss and what they took from it, and we will get our first glimpse of just that tonight. 

Madison Square Garden has played host to the last three Rangers games, and will again tonight as the Blueshirts take on the Colorado Avalanche in their fourth game of a seven-game homestand. To this point the Rangers have went 2-1-0 with wins over the Islanders and Hurricanes, and then obviously the loss to the Penguins on Thursday. The match-up with the Pens was the toughest so far, but tonight's meeting with the Colorado Avalanche won't be much easier. 

You may look at the standings in the Western Conference and notice that the Avs have only 81 points on the year. But, you should also take notice that they are holding on for dear life in the eighth place spot right now. Five teams in the West all have 80-81 points right now, and all five are battling for the final two playoff spots. At the moment the Avalanche have one, but they need to win as many of their final nine games as they can if they wish to maintain it.

To this point they haven't done a bad job, going 5-1-1 in their last seven games. Tonight's tilt will mark the end of the road trip before they return to Colorado, and with the Rangers being in first place in the East, it's certainly a win they will want for confidence reasons. The Avalanche will be a very desperate hockey team tonight and are going to go right at the Blueshirts. They can score goals and most of all they are very fast. Not to mention they just recently got star forward Matt Duchene back from injury. 

I made note of Colorado's speed, because that is something the Rangers have greatly struggled with this season, especially now as the wear and tear of the season is taking a toll on their bodies. We saw it against Pittsburgh - the Rangers simply couldn't keep up in the neutral and defensive zones and combined with their turnovers, it cost them. 

While there may not be very much the Rangers can do about speed, they can at least prevent the unnecessary turnovers. Careless hockey is not going to fly with head coach John Tortorella at this stage of the season, so I'm sure these mistakes were pointed out over and over again yesterday in practice. The Rangers aren't a peewee team, so there's no reason they should be making such foolish errors. It got to the point where it was embarrassing on Thursday, and it will be again if they continue to cough the puck up tonight. 

The lineup is completely up in the air right now, but here's a quick rundown:

- Ryan Callahan (foot) took part in today's morning skate and confirmed that he will be in the lineup. 

- Michael Del Zotto (hip) did not confirm anything, but he is also expected to return. Don't count on it, though. 

- Steve Eminger and Artem Anisimov are both out with undisclosed injuries and will not play tonight. 

- Ruslan Fedotenko (flu) did not skate this morning, but is expected to play. 

- Henrik Lundqvist will most likely be starting in goal for the Rangers. 

- Defenseman Tim Erixon has been recalled from the AHL, but has not yet been told that he will be in the lineup. 

New York Rangers Lineup:

TBA

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Australian cricket player dies from head injuries

Wrigley Field bleacher renovation may be delayed

Yankees wanted Rollins but Phillies' price was too high

Pop misses game for medical reasons; Messina takes over

John Beilein upset with ESPN for late start time to game

Tyson Chandler felt like Knicks' scapegoat at times

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Fred Jackson has 'no respect' for Donte Whitner

Devon Still responds to unpaid child support allegations

Diamondbacks sign Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas

Josh Gordon felt alienated by some in Browns organization

Jerry Jones: I'm a big admirer of Robert Griffin III

Raiola fined for uneccesarily striking Pats' Zach Moore

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE, says he'll never return

Steelers turned down chance to be called 'America's Team'

Report: Small chance Raiders-Rams could be moved to Indy

Todd Gurley begins rehab after surgery on knee for torn ACL

Brodeur to practice with Blues

OSU player posts Michigan player's girlfriend as his 'WCW'

Jim Harbaugh's family may not eat turkey thanks to NBC

Ole Miss' The Grove threatened by Mississippi State fan

Is it time for the Redskins to move on from Robert Griffin III?

Top 10 fantasy football turkeys for 2014

WATCH: Coyotes lose in ugly fashion, score own goal in OT

Warriors are having tons of fun on team plane

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

Dominic Raiola fined for cheap shots

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Rose leaves with injury again

WATCH: Pierce signs for fan during game

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.