Things have certainly turned around for the Blueshirts in the past couple of weeks. With the team almost fully healthy (with the exception of Rick Nash), the New York Rangers are sending a message to the rest of the NHL that they aren’t the same team that started the season.
Winners of five out of their last six, and six out of their last eight, the Rangers have certainly found a formula that works. Goalie’s Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot have been very good and it appears as their once anemic offense has hit their stride. Although still close to the bottom of the league in scoring, the Rangers have scored 9 goals their last two games and 25 goals in the last eight. During that span, eighteen Rangers have registered a point. Leading the way is Mats Zuccarella with 8 points (1g – 7a) followed closely by Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan each with 7 points (4g – 3a) respectively.
The Return of Captain Ryan Callahan has seemed to lift the overall play as well. Callahan has been nothing short of pesky to opposing goaltenders and finds himself creating scoring chances for his mates. The overall defense has also stepped up their game in the blocked shots department.
Special teams play for the Rangers in the beginning of the season was pretty dreadful. Since then they have moved up to 13th in the league on the power play, and 15th in the league in penalty kill. What has been the difference? It could be that the players are now more comfortable with first year Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. There is a noticeable difference in play from when the season started until now. They appear much faster, more physical, and seem to work much harder.
Everything mentioned has brought the Rangers to the .500 mark (8-8-0) on the season for the first time since the second game of the year and have put them in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division.
Two of the next three games for the Rangers certainly are in their favor. Home games against the Panthers (3-9-4, 10pts) and Devils (4-7-4, 12pts) might help keep their winning ways going. As the old adage goes, good teams are able to beat the bad teams so if this team is to be taken seriously they need to take care of business.
“We were here to win the game and we got the job done”-Alain Vigneault
The Rangers are streaking and becoming a real fun team to watch.