Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 3/17/12

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

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Klay Thompson fails miserably attempting a 360 dunk

Jays closer Roberto Osuna says he’s dealing with anxiety

John McEnroe claims Andy Warhol ruined his sex life

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel is Mavericks' top priority

Bill O'Brien: Deshaun Watson well prepared to run an offense

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Dolphins reached out to Peyton Manning about possible comeback

The Baltimore Orioles tied an MLB record they can’t be proud of

Report: Knicks afraid of Porzingis rebelling, hurting their image

Report: Blake Griffin opts out of contract to become free agent

Report: Wolves targeting Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday, other point guards in free agency

Conor McGregor’s coach says tentative plans include a return to UFC in 2017

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Kicking it: David Villa isn't interested in a 'retirement tour'

Box Score 6/23: Philly continues to trust the process

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Gary Payton Award for best trash talk of the year

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Kicking it: David Villa isn't interested in a 'retirement tour'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker