It’s an old story line in sports. The struggling team finally finds its game to reach the playoffs, fueling strong optimism it will be better prepared for the postseason because it has already been playing at that intensity.

The Rangers, a popular preseason pick for the Stanley Cup Finals, are that team right now.

They enter tonight’s game at Florida 8-2-1 in April and with strong odds of securing a playoff spot, albeit one of the Eastern Conference’s bottom seeds.

"We’ve been playing playoff-style hockey the last couple of games," captain Ryan Callahan said. "These are must-wins. It gives us a dress rehearsal, I guess you can say, for the playoffs."

Teams like the Rangers want to believe they can be last season’s Los Angeles Kings.

The reigning Stanley Cup champs switched coaches in December, snuck into the playoffs with the final berth in the West before becoming the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup, beating the same Devils who eliminated the Rangers in a six-game Eastern Conference final.

Too often, though, the playoffs wind up exposing the deficiencies that led to the early-season struggles in the first place.

The Rangers have scored 18 goals in their past three games, including a 6-1 win over the visiting Panthers on Thursday. But, before that game, the Rangers were an offensively challenged team tied for 23rd in the NHL in scoring.