Rangers-Jets Preview

Less than four weeks ago, the Winnipeg Jets were in the Eastern

Conference basement and the New York Rangers were within a win of

the top four. Now they’re tied for the eighth and final playoff


Consistency continues to elude the Rangers, who enter Thursday

night looking to recover from a poor effort and avoid a second loss

in as many meetings with a Jets team coming off possibly its best


A 4-0-1 run had New York tied for sixth place in the East and

two points back of fourth on Feb. 17. That night also saw Winnipeg

lose its third straight and seventh in nine games to drop into a

tie for last.

The Jets (13-11-2) have since turned things around, winning

eight of 12 and going 3-0-1 in their last four. The Rangers

(13-10-2), meanwhile, have had a four-game skid followed by a

four-game winning streak before losing two of their last three.

Each team enters Thursday with 28 points.

“We have to get it straightened out,” New York coach John

Tortorella said.

The fiery Tortorella was particularly angry following Tuesday’s

3-1 loss to a Buffalo team which had lost four straight and owns

one of the league’s worst records.

“I thought we stunk,” he said. “I couldn’t be more disgusted or

disappointed with how our top guys played.”

Though Derek Stepan scored for a second straight game, Rick Nash

had a 10-game point streak snapped and Marian Gaborik went

pointless. Gaborik, who had 41 goals last season and has eight in

2013, has scored one over the last 12 games.

Even Henrik Lundqvist had a bit of an off night, making 19

saves. New York fell to 2-7-0 when he allows more than two


“We need to figure it out here fast,” Lundqvist said.

His club is halfway through a four-game trip which could end in

ugly fashion if it loses Thursday because the finale comes against

division-leading Pittsburgh, which has won six straight versus New

York and six in a row overall.

“We just have to keep moving forward,” captain Ryan Callahan

said. “We have two more big ones on the road here.”

Callahan has a goal in three straight and seven of 10 versus

Winnipeg, but the Rangers had a four-game win streak in the series

snapped Feb. 26 as Olli Jokinen and Evander Kane each scored twice

in the Jets’ 4-3 victory at New York.

Though Jokinen has since gone pointless in seven contests, many

teammates had breakout games Tuesday in a 5-2 home win over Toronto

as the Jets matched a season high for goals and posted their most

lopsided victory.

Nik Antropov had a season-high three points, including his first

goal since Jan. 29. Dustin Byfuglien contributed three assists

after a 14-game stretch during which he had four points. Kyle

Wellwood notched his first multipoint effort after totaling three

points through his first 19 games.

Kane scored for the second straight game as he, Andrew Ladd and

Blake Wheeler continue to produce, but getting others going like

Antropov, Byfuglien and Wellwood – three of the team’s top seven

scorers last season – could be a major lift.

“I thought we had a lot of good games tonight from a lot of

players,” said coach Claude Noel, whose team has killed 25 straight

penalties. “I thought guys played hard and weren’t going to be


The Rangers remain without defenseman Marc Staal, who has missed

four games since getting hit in the eye with a puck.