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John Muckler


C - Wayne Gretzky, Manny Malhotra, Petr Nedved, Marc Savard. LW - Brent Fedyk, Adam Graves, Darren Langdon, Kevin Stevens, Eric Lacroix. RW - Todd Harvey, Mike Knuble, John MacLean, Niklas Sundstrom, Mike Maneluk. D - Jeff Beukeboom, Brian Leetch, Stan Neckar, Peter Popovic, Ulf Samuelsson, Mathieu Schneider, Ruman Ndur, Chris Tamer, Rich Brennan. G - Mike Richter, Dan Cloutier.


Wayne Gretzky, c (protrusion of the vertibrate 2-4 weeks); Ulf Samuelsson, d (concussion, day to day); Jeff Beukeboom, d (concussion, indefinite); Peter Popovic, d (eye, day-to-day); Todd Harvey, c (thumb, day-to-day).


Mike Maneluk, rw, claimed off waivers from Chicago Blackhawks.


2/26  Phoenix        W 3-0
2/28  Philadelphia   W 6-5
3/02  Dallas         T 2-2
3/04  at Washington  W 4-2
3/07  at Boston      W 3-1


Atlantic Division   GP   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA  
  New Jersey        64  35  21   8    78  191  161  
  Philadelphia      64  30  19  15    75  192  150  
  Pittsburgh        62  32  21   9    73  194  172  
  NY Rangers        64  28  28   8    64  181  177  
  NY Islanders      65  19  38   8    46  152  197


by Gregg Jensen, New York Rangers Correspondent

For two seasons, they have been billed as the worst team that money could buy. Suddenly, pulling together despite an avalanche of injuries, the Rangers have become scrappy underdogs. They are finally playing with emotion. Maybe that's due to desperation, maybe due to the loss of Wayne Gretzky, or maybe it' because there are only 19 games left and they are fighting for their playoff lives.

Whatever the reason, they are playing like a team on a mission. They are 4-0-1 in their last five. It seems like they are starting to gel...finally. Adam Graves, in his option year, continues to tear it up as he notched his 31st goal of the year against Washington on Thursday. He is a workhorse that is nearly impossible to knock off the puck. Mike Richter continues to stand on his head every night, and Brian Leetch is logging 30+ minutes a game in what could be a Norris Trophy season for the Captain. The veterans are starting to lead this team forward. If Neil Smith can continue to stay away from making any deals that would disrupt the chemistry, this team will be the 8th seed.

The Great One's misses his first game as a Blueshirt. Gretzky finally gave in to a nagging neck and back problem. An MRI discovered that he has a protrusion between the 5th and 6th vertebrate. Gretzky is on the shelf for the first in 223 straight games, including 222 since becoming a Ranger.

I applaud John Muckler's decision to play the younger guys. The Rangers have cut their average age from 30 this time last year to 25. Manny Malhotra, Marc Savard, Christian Dube, Scott Frasier, and Rich Brennan have all provided a much needed spark. Malhotra and Savard have really stepped up in Gretzky's absence. The team finally seems to have the right mix of veterans and youth. They are still a player or two away from being a legitimate contender, but the infusion of youth looks to be just what the doctor ordered.

The Blueshirts have five games in eight days, including one against Washington and one against Boston. It's do or die for this team. Can they continue to hold it together despite all the injuries? We shall see. Hopefully, the report I file in two weeks will be filled with talk about who the Rangers will play in the first round of the playoffs. Out of the 19 remaining games on the schedule, 13 are against .500+ teams. No easy task at all.

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