The Blueshirts have faced several injuries and hung in there
The Rangers weren’t even out of the gate to start the 2014-15 season, and they were already facing a big injury to 1st line center Derek Stepan.
Last Friday, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN praised the Rangers for staying relevant when the bulk of their defense was decimated, “The Rangers deserve credit for just keeping their heads above water over the opening quarter of the season when you consider their blue-line injuries.” LeBrun’s point was that many teams would have buckled under such strain.
Below is a list of players that have been injured this season for the Rangers
Dan Boyle– Broken Hand, Illness
Ryan McDonagh– Seperated Shoulder
Kevin Klein– Foot Contusion
Tanner Glass– Illness
Derek Stepan– Fractured Fibula
The big names that jump out on this list are obviously Stepan, Boyle, and McDonagh. The Rangers were able to stay in the hunt leaning on Matt Hunwick, Marc Staal, and Dan Girardi. Girardi and Staal were their usual responsible selves, but Hunwick stepped up in a big way. He is currently averaging 17:42 per game and has 7 assists in 22 games this season.
Hunwick is an excellent skater and that is what has kept him playing in his current role. We saw him play ahead of John Moore on November 28th against the Flyers. He will at the very least stay with the Rangers for the season.
Of course another major reason for the Rangers staying relevant is Rick Nash. Nash has been excellent offensively, but he has also been a force defensively. His ability to get back and help out the defense was allowing the Rangers to play a smooth game while short some key players.
You can point to Hunwick and Nash as key factors for the Rangers, but in reality it is attributed to the teams depth. Derick Brassard and Dominic Moore did a great job holding the fort defensively down center, and even though Kevin Hayes isn’t great on draws he has had a good stick and has been involved in the transition game. Lee Stempniak has produced 10 points in 21 games and Anthony Duclair has 7 points in 18 games played.
Whenever a team is getting the kind of balanced play up and down the lineup like the Rangers have you can expect good results. Now that the team is healing we expect them to get to another level.
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