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Rangers aim to get back on track with important game against the Panthers

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers vs Panthers 1-2

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After a disappointing California road trip that exposed many of the team’s flaws, the Rangers (40-24-8) enter the home stretch with just 10 games remaining, playing three of the next four games at MSG. They start tonight against the Florida Panthers (40-23-9), who sit in first place in the Atlantic Division.

In their last game out, Henrik Lundqvist kept his team in the game for a long time despite being completely outplayed. The Sharks totaled 52 shots on goal, two times as many shots as the Rangers had, and scored four times. That put the Rangers at 3-4-2 in the last nine games.

And while the Rangers are significantly cooling down, other teams are starting to heat up. The playoff picture in the Metropolitan is very tight. The Rangers currently sit in third place, tied with the Penguins in games played, wins and points. But Pittsburgh have won six straight games and eight of the last 10. The Blueshirts are three points ahead of the Islanders for the first wild card spot, but the Isles have two games in hand. And the Red Wings trail the Rangers by five points with no games in hand for the last Wild Card spot. Read the rest of this entry

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Quick Hits: The Florida Panthers are legit, Winter Classic, Changing the Playoff format

Bobby Bevilacqua

Welcome back to Quick Hits, a series where I talk about anything and everything around the NHL. The NHL is approaching the halfway mark of the season, and there are some really interesting storylines. The Panthers are in first place in the Atlantic, the Ducks are one of the worst teams in the league, and the Canadiens can’t win without Carey Price.

If there’s anything you want me to talk about in the next edition of Quick Hits, leave it in the comments section below.

The Florida Panthers are legit

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 1: Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal with teammates Aaron Ekblad #5 and Brian Campbell #51 the Tampa Bay Lightning at the BB&T Center on March 1, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Photo courtesy of Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images.

Before the season started, I predicted that the Panthers would make the playoffs as a wild card team. I didn’t foresee the Canadiens falling off without Carey Price, or the Lightning struggling, or Detroit playing around .500 hockey.

So to the surprise of just about everybody, it’s the Florida Panthers that lead the Atlantic Division. Dave Tallon has constructed a team with an excellent blend of youth and veteran leadership, constructed through the draft and some smart offseason acquisitions. Read the rest of this entry

Which NHL teams improved the most this offseason?

Bobby Bevilacqua

NHL team logos

Photo courtesy of psdcovers.com

Expect some new playoff challengers for the 2015-16 NHL season.

Every season, there are a few teams that surprise everyone, surge into the playoffs and have an improved season overall. This past year we saw the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames and the Ottawa Senators all climb their way into the playoffs, bringing new blood into the chase for the Stanley Cup.

This year, it will be no different, and there will be new teams rising in the standings, catching everyone off guard and making a push to get into the playoffs. A few teams have made huge strides in improving their teams, and could be surprise contenders during this upcoming season.

Here are some of the most improved teams heading into the upcoming season. Read the rest of this entry