2006_03_srangerslib.gifYou cannot write the story of the 2005-06 Rangers without recognizing how far they exceeded expectations. Picked by many to finish dead last, the Rangers surprised everyone by making the playoffs and, more importantly, making the franchise relevant again. As great as that was, you also cannot ignore the collapse the team suffered in the final two weeks of the season.

The Rangers closed their regular season with a five-game losing streak, dropping their final game 5-1 to Ottawa. The streak coupled with the Devils’ resurgence gives New Jersey the division title and means New York will open the playoffs in New Jersey this Saturday.

The biggest question now is can the Rangers rediscover the formula that made them so formidable for most of the season? Yes, the injuries have hurt and Henrik Lundqvist’s return will help, but the Rangers need to regain their toughness in the defensive zone and stop relying solely on Jagr in the offensive zone. Even getting to the playoffs seemed like a dream at the start of the season, but after all the Rangers did, a first round exit would be a disappointing end to a great year.