Previously, the team was depending on the offensive production of their top-line to get the job done. But after a 5-1 route of the Carolina Hurricanes, which saw a complete offensive effort, it appears as though all four lines are now clicking.
Brandon Dubinsky, who was held goal-less over the first 14 games, finally broke his slump when he potted his first of the season against the Hurricanes.
Brad Richards spoke to Jim Cerny of Blueshirts United on the team’s recent success, and putting it all together as a cohesive unit.
“You can just see, like with Dubi last game, the weight is off, guys are skating faster and they are more free in the mind (when they finally contribute offensively). That’s happened in different stages with different guys this year because not everyone has been firing (offensively). Hopefully now we have everybody feeling good and having that free feeling, and that’ll translate into being sharper as a team offensively.”
On the back end, the Rangers have been one the sharpest defensive team’s in the league. Dan Girardi has played 30 minutes of solid defense every single night, while his partner Ryan McDonagh continues to make fans say, “Marc Staal who?” Even Michael Del Zotto, who has been pegged by fans and experts to start the season in the AHL has played some of his best hockey.
“Everybody is talking about our offense, you don’t get enough scoring, but you can’t get that by thinking about offense. You get your offense by thinking about defense. We’ve spent a lot of time, especially on tape, on team defense. I think that’s helped us.” Tortorella said after practice Saturday afternoon.. “At least it’s got us some traction here, when we do have breakdowns, our goaltending has been solid. I think we’ve cut our chances way down. You are going to make mistakes. I think our goaltending has stood in there and certainly been a big part of it here. That’s how we have to play. It has to be a team defense where your offense comes off of that.”
The goaltending has, and will continue to be the least of this team’s worries. On the off chance that Henrik Lundqvist is not playing up to the elite level he so consistently displays, Martin Biron has proven to be a more than capable back-up netminder. Of course, Lundqvist is back to his old world-class self again.
With a light schedule for the next two weeks, it may throw the Rangers momentum off. They will have to stay disciplined, and practice rigorously. It will be important to see how the team responds to their division rival after the New York Islanders completely out-played them earlier in the season. And while the two team’s could not be in more different a place right now, the Islanders always show up when the Rangers cross into Nassau County.
The real test will begin for the Rangers when the divisional games start to pile up. The Atlantic Division is no cake walk, but right now the New York Rangers look like the real deal.