The Rangers and Penguins are the only two teams in the East to have qualified for the playoffs in seven of the eight seasons of the hard cap era.

The Rangers and Kings are the only two teams in the league to have advanced to at least the second round of the playoffs in each of the past two years.

But the Rangers appear as far away from a Stanley Cup as at any time since the league reopened for business in 2005-06, so whatever comparative success they’ve enjoyed feels like a massive failure.
It has been one step forward, two steps back; two steps forward, three steps back.

It is not good enough.

If there is a vision propelling this franchise, it is unclear exactly what it might be.

That is the indictment that can be levied against general manager Glen Sather, whose team includes 11 players in no more than their second seasons in New York, and only two of whom (Rick Nash and Chris Kreider) seem assured of being here for a third.

If Bill Torrey didn’t have a job for life, how can Sather?

How can anyone, other than a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas wants to know.
Yes, the Rangers can make the playoffs in their God-awful division, and yes, the Rangers conceivably could record their annual early-round victory over the Capitals, but does anyone believe the ceiling is higher than a second-round goodbye?

Tell me there’s more to the plan than that.

Two immediate items of utmost importance: the futures of pending free agents Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.

Within the next three months, Sather must determine whether the Rangers are going to be able and willing to sign their captain and their first-pair right defensemen to contract extensions.

Neither has played up to expectations and both will command lucrative deals in a market where demand will exceed supply and dollars will be plentiful within a rising cap.