The young Rangers are up and coming, but Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has had considerably less support to work with this season and it shows in his team’s play. (Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
By Stu Hackel
Their seasons on the line, two Original Six teams found themselves in the eighth and final playoff spots in their respective conferences as the week began. The New York Rangers had only a two-point advantage on hard-charging Carolina in the East and needed a win on Monday night at home against Boston. By now, you probably know the Rangers trailed 3-0 before clawing their way back to victory and jumping into seventh. It was a game that had coach John Tortorella praising his team’s desire and fortitude, which he attributed in some measure to its youth and innocence (video).
The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, on the other hand, are trying to hang on to their one-point advantage over Calgary in the West, and they skate tonight in Montreal. A year ago, the Hawks were a young, fresh club set to embark on the strong run that would culminate in the franchise’s first Cup in 49 years. Now, the rigors of salary cap management and significant injuries have shorn them of their innocence, not to mention the depth that served them so well last spring.