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With a 3-1 loss to the Capitals on Thursday night, the Rangers did not get off on the right skate in their opening-round playoff series.

Nothing in this lockout-shortened season has been easy for the Rangers, so why should making the playoffs be any exception?

With eight games remaining, the Rangers sit in a three-way tie for sixth place, two points clear of the ninth-place Jets (and the playoff cutline).

Only 13 games remain in the Rangers' season, and the playoffs are far from a certainty.

This year's Big East Tournament, which tips off Tuesday, will be the last. And few groups this side of "Game of Thrones" have more divided loyalties and complicated rivalries.

With Rick Nash back at full strength, the Rangers can do little wrong. They have gone 3-1 in their last four games, coming back from a goal down against the Flyers, Islanders and Capitals.

The Rangers eventual 3-2 victory over Buffalo on Sunday was their second in as many games after a four-game losing skid.

Just when they appeared to have turned the corner, the Rangers took 3 1/2 steps back and now have major health concerns.

After playing only one overtime and no shootouts in their first 11 games, the Rangers have twice gone the distance in their last three games

the Rangers have rebounded nicely with a pair of convincing wins. If not for the continuing power play struggles, this team might have had a perfect week.

After getting hit in the face with an errant puck on Thursday at MSG, Rangers sideline reporter John Giannone might want to start working more Devils games.

Twice during this young season, the Rangers have reached .500. Both times, they have lost their next game, and both times those contests have been one-sided.

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