ARLINGTON, Va. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Rangers can point to a pivotal moment that turned their season around.
Stuck in a 2-3-1 rut as the April 3 trade deadline approached, the Rangers needed a shake-up.
It happened in the final 24 hours of dealing, when prime scorer Marian Gaborik was shipped to Columbus for a package that included forward Derick Brassard and defenseman John Moore. A day earlier, the Rangers acquired rugged forward Ryane Clowe, whose playing status against the Washington Capitals is uncertain because he was injured in the final week of the regular season.
That began a surge for the Rangers, who finished 9-3-1 and clinched a playoff berth in their next-to-last game.
"I think it solidified our team," Rangers coach John Tortorella said of the deadline dealing. "We have kind of grown since then. We're not always dead-on in our minutes in the game, but we have still found ways to win hockey games, and that's what we're going to have to do in the playoffs."
He added: "I thought it changed our team a little bit. ... And we took off."
Tortorella told WFAN host Mike Francesa on Wednesday that without those moves down the stretch, the Rangers wouldn't have made the playoffs.
"We would not have, I don't think we would have," Tortorella told Francesa. "Maybe some people don't want to hear that, but I don't ... Some guys had good years (last year), and when you have good years and your contract's up, people are going after your players and you can't keep them all. I just felt we lost the middle of our lineup, and I don't think any of us really felt that it would hurt us as bad as it did.
"I felt it in the first few games of the season, where I just had no maneuverability on the bench ... I think the deal was really good for our club, and I think it propelled us."
New York will kick off its first-round playoff series against the Capitals on Thursday in D.C. at 7:30 p.m.
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