If you were to poll people across the country, asking them which of holidays they look forward to the most, many of them would have a similar response: Halloween.
Why wouldn’t it be? Halloween marks the one day on the calendar that it’s acceptable–and encouraged–to dress up and pretend to be nearly anything you can imagine. Want to dress as Batman? Go ‘head, wear a cape and tights for the day. Macho Man Randy Savage? No problem; go crazy with the glitter and rhinestones. After all, it’s your day. Your day to be anything you dream.
However, that’s the catch; it only lasts one day. Sure, Halloween festivities can stretch out across the weekend in some cases, but that’s it. One, two, three days, MAX.
Someone forgot to explain the rules of Halloween to the New York Rangers.
You see, on October 31, the Rangers decided to dress up as a well-oiled machine for their tilt against the San Jose Sharks. When they took the ice at Madison Square Garden on Halloween night, they came out as an offensive powerhouse; a team that was in charge and full of confidence.
The team that came out of the dressing room on Oct. 31 was not the same Rangers that had been booed off the ice for two consecutive games.
These Rangers played with poise, offensive prowess and a determination to not only start the game strongly, but, to finish it with a full, 60-minute effort.
There’s only been one problem since their 5-2 victory over San Jose: they haven’t stopped.
You see, the Rangers (10-3-3) haven’t changed out of their costumes.
Something changed within the Rangers after the forgettable start to the season. After the disastrous, 4-2 loss to Toronto on opening night, which was followed by a blown three-goal lead in the third period to Ottawa just two nights later, something had to change.
Now, there are those who will coincide the Rangers’ recent success (seven straight victories) with the return of Sean Avery, but that’s highly unlikely as the main cause.
The main cause of this recent stretch of solid play, can most likely be attributed to the Rangers’ ability to stay out of the penalty box.
Coming into that Halloween matchup against San Jose, the Rangers were dead last in the NHL as far as discipline was concerned.
At that point, the Rangers were averaging just over 23 minutes of penalties-per-game. Now, although they’re still technically third-to-last in the league with just over 16 minutes per game, it’s a drastic improvement.
That final number is a bit skewed due to the lack of discipline to start the season. The Rangers took 49 of their 71 minors prior to their seven-game win streak.
With the Rangers finally staying out of the penalty box, it’s allowed head coach John Tortorella to allow his lines to gel at a more even keel. Rather than his normal merry-go-round of line combinations, Tortorella has allowed his lineup to come together and remain intact, for the most part.
The chemistry developed between lines has been evident.
The Rangers have outscored their opponents, 27-10, over the streak. That’s a huge turnaround from the 2.2 goals-per-game they had averaged the first nine games of the season.
The Rangers have had balance throughout the lineup as far as goal production, but no line is producing at the rate of the Blueshirts’ No. 1 unit.
The combo of Marian Gaborik, sophomore Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov, has been almost guaranteed to put up multi-point performances each night.
The line has 22 points over the past seven games, while averaging just under 10 shots per-game.
With Gaborik clicking with those two, Brad Richards has slid down to the second line, centering Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky, adding a much more potent punch to the Rangers’ depth.
The Blueshirts will look to extend their winning ways to eight games, as they travel to Montreal on Saturday night. Only time will tell if the Rangers remain in their Halloween digs, or if they will revert back to the ghostly team that came out to play for the first nine games.