Rangers unlikely to make significant move at trade deadline
There was much to like from the Rangers in their 5-2 victory over the Flyers last night, starting with the play of the centers, including a revived Brad Richards. “Two points,” Richards said of his own contribution of a goal and an assist to the cause before delivering the self-deprecating punch line, “First time since the ’80s.” Richards skated on the third line between Chris Kreider and Brian Boyle while coach John Tortorella returned to the top-six permutations he employed in back-to-back triumphs over the Flyers and Islanders on March 5 and 7, using Derek Stepan between Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin while going with J.T. Miller centering Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan. The combinations produced pace and a 3-0 lead by 5:46 of the second period. The Blueshirts did give two back through a late second-period lull that lasted into the third — aided and abetted by an unaccountable puck-touch in the offensive zone by Gaborik for an intentional offside that preceded the Flyers’ second goal at 6:28 — but they did not crumble. “It was fun to see us score goals,” Henrik Lundqvist said. “Everything builds when you score goals, and that includes confidence.” The good stuff aside, the Rangers remain a playoff bubble team, in eighth place, two points ahead of the ninth-place Islanders with a game in hand. They are also on the bubble of the trade talks circulating through the NHL as next Wednesday’s April 3 deadline approaches. General manager Glen Sather hasn’t been much of a wheeler-dealer at the deadline since 2002, when the Rangers obtained Tom Poti from the Oilers in exchange for Michael York just a day after acquiring Pavel Bure from the Panthers for a package that featured a first-rounder, the former a lamentable transaction and the latter undercut by the Russian Rocket’s bum knees. There was the 2006 acquisition of Sandis Ozolinsh that turned into subtraction by addition, the 2011 deal for Bryan McCabe that amounted to little and last year’s bizarre deal for slow-footed enforcer John Scott, who created less of a Blueshirt imprint than, say, Layne Ulmer. Now, even as Sather recognizes his team is in need of help, the recent trend of acquiring marginal players on the margins of the market is likely to continue. For the problems confronting the GM as he scours the market are at least two-fold and can be defined as followed:
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