Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 11/15/14

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. 

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cavs beat Hawks without Kyrie Irving, take 2-0 lead

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Minor League team cancels 'A-Rod Juice Box Night'

Dolphins teammate on Dion Jordan: It’s a bad situation

Texans reportedly the favorite to be featured on ‘Hard Knocks’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Goodell will not recuse himself from Brady appeal

Will Smith suspended eight games for 'foreign substance'

Report: Kobe Bryant likely to retire following next season

Don Shula named in painkiller lawsuit from former NFL players

Kyrie Irving questionable for Game 2 versus Atlanta

Michael Sam signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

The Los Angeles Angels are finally finding their groove

Re-evaluating all 30 MLB teams at the quarter mark

Is virtual reality training the next leap forward for football?

Warriors a very shaky 2-0 against the Rockets

NFL icon Bud Grant zings Pats with Deflategate joke on Twitter

RG3 announces birth daughter's birth on social media

Don't listen to Nick Saban, the bowl system is just fine

MLB scores partial victory in minor league wage lawsuits

Ranking the NBA Playoffs' most significant injuries

WATCH: Will Smith ejected for foreign substance on arm

Guy behind NFL's social media trolling of Pats is a Jets fan?

In defense of 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie

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

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Aaron Hernandez got new tattoo in prison

TUF weekly recap by NOS® Energy Drink

Ten players who could benefit due to PAT rule change

Five QBs set for breakout campaigns

Report: Lakers will pursue Thibodeau

MLS leaders struggling with attendance

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.