Yesterday, approximately 30,000 fans packed Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ to celebrate a Super Bowl championship. The New York Rangers could be the next champions in the New York area, however, Coach Tortorella conveyed the need to stay the course and take “one game at a time.” That’s exactly the approach Coach Tom Coughlin insisted on to direct his team. While it would seem the Rangers have it wrapped up in the Eastern Conference with a confident lead, there’s still plenty of hockey to be played.
In one afternoon, the New York Rangers and the Giants physically wore down their opponents. In a rematch of the Winter Classic, the Philadelphia Flyers were run over 5-2 by the maneuverability of Marian Gaborik near the net, and the multiple battles on the ice displaying a force to be reckoned with. Exciting times for New York fans who look now to the Blueshirts of Broadway for the next parade.
A major reason the Rangers have struck gold is the spectacular efforts in net. Lundqvist posted two shutouts last week coming off of the All-Star Weekend illustrating why he’s a leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy, but makes a strong case for the Hart. A team is only as good as the sum of its parts, and Hank is only one part. Certainly, Eli Manning was the MVP but he didn’t win without the talents of Victor Cruz or Mario Manningham.
However, being in first place at this point of the season isn’t a guarantee. The Rangers are 33-13-5 leading the Eastern Conference by three over Boston. The Giants had a 4-game losing streak and many thought there season was a bust. Fighting back and the thirst for victory in a team stems from the ability to examine any shortcomings. Critics point to the power-play as a hole in the Rangers ability to close the deal. Solutions have been thrown around to fix the problem as the trade deadline approaches.
Strong scoring forwards have been established with Gaborik and Richards; Callahan’s leadership has been implemented appropriately; rookie Hagelin adds energy; and the enforcers have entertained. So now where does Coach Tortorella go from here?
While Brandon Dubinsky is popular with fans and had done well with the system in place, he may be the next to go. It may be a move that shakes and wakes the locker room to say that all are expendable. Moving Dubinsky would allow more room under the salary cap for another top scorer like a Bobby Ryan or Teemu Selanne who may be interested in another Cup.
Forward Wojtek Wolski could fetch some interest, as his slow start didn’t amount to much. Wolski is a talented player with scoring potential in the right system. As a draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche, he did well in Denver as a popular player with the coaches and the fans. Streaky play and the occasional injury slowed his progression.
As the options are kicked around, the growth in New York has been enlightening to fans. In preseason polls, they were not expected to be in the lead, rather mid-pack with a possible playoff appearance.
The future looks good and with a little creativity any stagnation may cease to exist, as the Giants learned in shaking off their losses turning each game into an opportunity to win. Patience and persistence have been the keys for the Rangers in exceeding expectations one game at a time.