Starting tonight at The Garden the Rangers will play four games in six nights, the first two at home---tonight vs, Phoenix and Thursday against Ottawa, and then back-to-back on the road in Toronto on Saturday and Montreal on Sunday. It will be a busy week, and one full of different challenges.
One of those newer challenges that the Rangers are getting used to is wearing the target on their collective backs as one of the upper echelon teams in the National Hockey League. In fact entering play today the Rangers have the most points (56), most wins (26), and fewest regulation losses (9) in the entire league. So the players are starting to understand that other teams view the Blueshirts now as a team to target, and one against whom an "A" effort is required every game.
"It's definitely different with every team coming in wanting to beat you," admitted Michael Del Zotto. "It's a different feeling from what we have been used to the last couple of years, squeaking into the playoffs. But it's a great feeling. It's just that much more pressure for us each night, and we know we have to be ready, we can't have any letdowns because every team is bringing their best when they play us."
Rangers head coach John Tortorella has been extremely pleased with how well his club has adapted to this new role, being more of the hunted as opposed to the hunter. He considers it just another step in the process of the Rangers becoming the team, and organization, they strive to be for years to come.
One of the keys to the team's success this season has been their vastly improved play on home ice. The Rangers, following two mediocre seasons at The Garden, have posted a 12-3-2 home-ice mark so far this season.
"It's nice being at home and having the fans on our side, which is such a huge plus," noted Del Zotto. "We've had a good home record, and that's one thing we talked about at the start of the season. We know we are a good road team, and that's become part of our identity. But if we can take care of home ice we're going to be at the top of the standings."
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