Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 10/19/14
There were definitely some mixed emotions among the fans after Thursday night’s 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Some were satisfied with the effort and just plainly admitted that the Rangers had lost to a better team. Others were rather disappointed at the end of the night, saying that the effort from the club could have and should have been much better. Personally, I was disappointed not because the Rangers lost, but how they lost. Nothing makes a coach cringe more than turnovers and the Blueshirts had a boatload of them by the time the game was over. Against a highly skilled team, you know going in that you will get burned if you turn the puck over. Still, though, the Rangers fell guilty to this and made the win easier than it should’ve been for the Penguins. But that’s just my opinion. However way you feel about the outcome, I think everyone can agree on one thing: that loss was a reality check for this Rangers team. The Rangers have hit a roller coaster trend in recent months, with wins and losses mixed throughout the schedule. Throughout this period of time, they’ve admittedly lost their focus and veered away from the gameplan that has made them so successful this season. In addition to that, they’ve also experienced injuries to key players such as Ryan Callahan, Michael Del Zotto and just recently Henrik Lundqvist due to the flu. But no matter what the lineup looked like or how the Rangers played on Thursday night, they were not the better team. As far as this season goes, they never will be the better team. The Pittsburgh Penguins, in my mind, are an absolute powerhouse that just needed some time to pick up steam. They’re healthy and rolling as they should right now, and I can promise you that the Rangers aren’t fazing them. This was pretty well established before Thursday, but it was publicized nationally in that game, and obviously it opened some eyes in that Ranger locker room. This team has rode on a high all year long, and just two nights ago, I think, were brought back to reality. One can argue that they hit a reality check much earlier when they started to play streaky, and I can see why. But even then, the Rangers still felt that they were the better team; they just weren’t executing as they should. They couldn’t use that excuse Thursday, though, because as stated earlier, they were far from being the better hockey club on that night. But a reality check such as this in mid-March couldn’t have come at a better time.  I don’t want the Rangers feeling tremendously confident going into the playoffs, nor do I think John Tortorella does either. Don’t get me wrong, the team’s swagger has brought them very far as we’ve discussed in the past, but there is a significant difference between confident and overconfident. Overconfident will welcome you to a first round exit in the playoffs, which would be just downright embarrassing at this point. The Rangers were exposed on Thursday. It became crystal clear that they need to see improvement on defense. Their back-up goalie Marty Biron has progressively lost his game and now he is just straight up struggling in each start. Offensively, the Blueshirts are a one-line team right now. And to boot, their shot-blocking system is knocking players out left and right. These were all ideas before Thursday, which was when they became facts.  Now the team’s job is easy, though. They need to fix all of these repetitive mistakes and flaws and they have about a month to do so. Their keys to success and their keys to failure are right there in black-and-white thanks to the Penguins – a better team – exposing them on Thursday. As upsetting as that 5-2 outcome was, it’s exactly what the team needs moving forward. And remember, the season series with Pittsburgh isn’t over yet. Tonight’s response against a young team in the Colorado Avalanche will be very telling in where this season is going for the New York Rangers. I expect to see improvement, especially if some of the names listed above are returning from the sideline. Hopefully they don’t let us down. 
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Okla. St. players fell asleep in drive-thru, arrested

Oscar Pistorius sentenced to five years in prison

Mike Pettine considered benching Hoyer for Manziel

Percy Harvin speaks out: 'I'm not a perfect person'

Report: Kobe has prevented Lakers from signing top talent

Red Sox may be ready to move Yoenis Cespedes

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Alleged details of War Machine's suicide letter released

Austin Davis says Rams security didn't recognize him

LeBron: Bulls are 'much better' than Cavs right now

Redskins to stick with Colt McCoy over Kirk Cousins

Rick Pitino: Louisville will beat FSU in football

Report: Rams considered favorites to move to LA

Floyd Mayweather posts photo evidence of a lost bet

WATCH: Paul George takes court for first time since leg injury

Five most surprising NFL players through seven weeks

WATCH: Boxer viciously attacks referee at Euro Championships

WATCH: Salvador Perez hassles Lorenzo Cain at media session

Lane Kiffin trashed in Tennessee political ad

WATCH: Lawrence Timmons throws up on field during MNF

10 NBA players who could be traded by the All-Star break

WATCH: Jimbo Fisher gets annoyed, cuts interview short

WATCH: Les Miles has classic reaction to dumb question

WATCH: Tennessee coach tried to trip Ole Miss player?

News station congratulates Gary Payton for breaking TD record

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!

Pistorius sentenced to five years

Lane Kiffin trashed in political ad

Details of War Machine's suicide letter leaked

Angry Jimbo Fisher cuts off interview

Is Kobe's deal hurting the Lakers?

Tenn. coach tried to trip Ole Miss CB?

GGG continues his reign of terror

The 6 things that mattered this weekend in the premier league

News station congratulates Gary Payton for TD record

Ray Rice could be back by Week 10?

12 amazing stats from Week 7

World Series preview

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.