The Rangers will still make the playoffs 

March, 4, 2011

The place to be this weekend just might be Calgary. The Flames, currently clinging to the eighth spot in the Western Conference, host a pair of important games.

Tonight, they'll meet the completely desperate Columbus Blue Jackets, who suffered a painful 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers last night. At this time of year, if you're scrambling to make the playoffs, you simply can't lose to last-place teams. And if you're the Flames, you can't afford to lose to teams behind you in the standings. Calgary could put another nail -- perhaps the final one -- in Columbus' coffin with a victory Friday evening.

Then on Sunday, Brent Sutter's posse will get a visit from the Nashville Predators, who put a 3-0 beating on the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night. The Flames, who have played at least one more game than any of the teams they're battling with for a playoff spot, could really use a big performance against the dinged-up Preds.

While many of you probably can't get to the Saddledome, you've already proven you can get to me ... with your questions! In this week's edition of "Five for Friday," I reached into my mailbag to answer a fistful of your inquiries.

My New York Rangers have lost three in a row and they're just 4-6 in their last 10 games, falling into eighth place in the conference. Are we going to miss the playoffs? --Laura B, Scarsdale, N.Y.

Yogi Berra famously said, "It ain't over 'til it's over," right? The Rangers still have 16 games on the schedule, including Friday night's tilt against the Eastern Conference cellar-dwelling Ottawa Senators. I'd say that's a game you really want to win.

Clearly, the New Yorkers have to generate more offense down the stretch. Since Jan. 1, the Rangers have scored three or fewer goals in 23 of their 28 games (that's not counting two shootout wins in which they were credited with a fourth goal). And in 18 of those 28 games they've scored two or less. Not surprisingly, they're 11-15-2 in that span.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.