It’s no secret that the first quarter of the 2014-15 season has had its ups and downs for the New York Rangers. The team has been plagued by injuries, particularly along the blue line, and despite having a handful of “wake-up call” losses in recent days (player’s words, not mine), the Rangers have lacked the ability to find any sort of consistency in their play. However, as lackluster as the team has looked at certain points, there have been others when they’ve looked just fine, and almost reminiscent of the squad that went to the Stanley Cup Final last season.
Though it’s of course still early, we have just about reached the quarter mark of this season, which means it’s time to look back at the top five moments of the Rangers season up to this point.
#5) Double-Trouble: Rangers Score Twice in Four Seconds (10/19/14)
After a 2-3-0 start to the season, the Rangers and the Sharks met for an early Sunday evening date at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers, in need of a confident and convincing win, got just that as they beat the Sharks by a 4-0 final. They did receive a little help along the way, though, from San Jose netminder Alex Stalock, as a miscue on his part led to the Rangers scoring twice in just four seconds. The one-two punch from Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash put the Rangers ahead 3-0, a score they never looked back from, as they went on to earn the two points.
#4) Count on Brass: Brassard Wins it in Overtime against Detroit (11/5/14)
The Rangers and Red Wings met for a Wednesday night Original Six – and rivalry if you ask NBCSN – matchup in New York. The game had it all. The Rangers led 2-0, and the Red Wings came back to tie it. There were great saves from Henrik Lundqvist, including a penalty shot save on Gustav Nyquist, and there were not so pretty goals to get by the King. There was even a game tying goal in the waning seconds of regulation for the Red Wings, which sent the game to overtime. However, when all was set and done, it was Brassard to the Rangers’ rescue, as he netted to winner in overtime.
HONORABLE MENTION: Rangers Dominate Pittsburgh (11/11/14)
Deserving of honorable mention from the season’s first quarter is the Rangers’ 5-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Following an embarrassing weekend for the Blueshirts in which they lost to both the Maple Leafs and the Oilers on back-to-back nights, the Rangers responded with a dominant performance over one of the hottest teams in the league. It was quite the response for the Rangers after the weekend they had had.
#3) Kelinsenberg: Klein’s OT Winner Tops New Jersey (10/21/14)
This game was a classic meeting between the two cross-river rivals. In their first matchup of the post-Brodeur era at “The Rock” in New Jersey, the Rangers fell behind 3-1 to the Devils after notching the opening goal of the game. But thanks to Chris Mueller and Rick Nash, as well as strong play in net from Lundqvist, the Rangers were able to stage the third period comeback, to send the contest to overtime. Following a chance for Damon Severson at the Rangers end of the ice, Chris Kreider picked up the puck and rushed down the rink. Kreider did a quick give-and-go with Mueller, made a move to the middle, and dropped the puck off between the circles for Kevin Klein. Klein, the emerging offensive machine and Walter White lookalike, made no mistake, as he put the puck past Cory Schneider to give the first of four meetings between the Rangers and the Devils to New York.
#1 & 1A) Wild & Crazy Win Over Minnesota/Duclair’s First (10/27/14)
Let’s just cut to the chase. There is no reason to have a number two moment, when the top two are almost interchangeable (as far as I’m concerned), and took place during the same period of the same game.
The Rangers’ huge third period comeback over the Minnesota Wild was far and away the most exciting game, and the top moment of the season thus far. The Rangers played an absolutely horrid first 40 minutes, and trailed 3-0 heading into the third. But something happened during the second intermission, for the Rangers came out flying in the final frame. They proceeded to score five goals in the closing 20 minutes of the game, one of which was Anthony Duclair’s first NHL goal. The goal for the 19-year-old came with just 3:48 to play in regulation, and was the tally which tied the game at four a piece. It was quite a moment for the kid at a time when the Rangers needed it most. Just 47 seconds later, the Rangers completed the comeback when Mats Zuccarello put a Derick Brassard feed behind Keumper to give New York the 5-4 win.
What the days ahead hold for the Rangers is, of course, yet to be seen. The struggle for consistency is a concern, but with Henrik Lundqvist reaching mid-season form, and health slowly but surely returning to Blueshirts’ lineup, I would say the Rangers are well on their way to improving upon their mediocre start to the season.