Dan Rosen impressed with New York Rangers performance this season
The New York Rangers are thriving under Peter Laviolette in his first season as head coach. As the team begins their December slate of games, they sit atop the Metro Division standings six points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes with a game in hand.
Furthermore, and despite a number of significant injuries, the Blueshirts are an early favorite to win the Presidents’ Trophy at 16-4-1 for 33 points. They are just a single point behind the league-leading Vegas Golden Knights, who have played three more games than the Rangers.
On the latest Forever Blueshirts Show, Dan Rosen, who is a Senior Writer for NHL.com, stopped by to discuss the impressive showing by the 2023-24 Rangers to date.
New York Rangers overcoming adversity
One of the most impressive aspects of the Rangers season has been the way they’ve overcome significant injuries to Adam Fox, Filip Chytil, Igor Shesterkin, and now Kaapo Kakko. Aside from Shesterkin, all have landed on LTIR.
President and General Manager Chris Drury did a wonderful job with limited cap space over the summer to sign quality veterans at a lowcost. One of them is defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who stepped up in Fox’s absence to play top-four minutes and quarterback the power play. In the 10 games Fox missed, he registered 11 points.
“He looked really good in the 10 games Fox was out,” Rosen began to explain. He’s an offensive defenseman that knows his role and has a history with Peter Laviolette. Think about some of those other signings in the summer. Jonathan Quick has been terrific in net. Bonino has been solid. Wheeler is playing in a top line role, and since he’s been put on there, Kreider and Zibanejad have been better.”
Of course, Wheeler wasn’t signed to be on the first line, so should the Rangers look to make a move? Possibly elevate the red-hot Jimmy Vesey, who played a few games with them last season?
“It’s not hurting them having Wheeler there,” noted Rosen. “Vesey is playing well, but he’s giving them four line depth. I also don’t know if they are going to have a need to go and make a significant move. Sometimes we overlook what’s right in front of us. From all indications, what I see is a team with chemistry and if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
Peter Laviolette and Shot Blocking
Another stand-out aspect of the Rangers game this season has been on defense and in particular, blocking shots. Overall, the Blueshirts are averaging 17.50 blocks per 60 minutes of play, which ranks 7th overall in the NHL.
“Shot blocking is get down, get dirty, and hope it doesn’t smash you in the face,” Rosen stated. “Jacob Trouba has played really well this season. I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. If I was a player on the other team and Jacob Trouba came on the ice, I’d go right to the bench.”
Trouba has taken his shot blocking to another level with 75 on the year to date, which places him second in the league behind Vegas’ Brayden McNabb (79). Meanwhile, Nick Bonino is tops among all forwards with 50.
A lot of that has to do with Peter Laviolette, who has instilled a system and a style that all his players are committed to executing.
“This is what Peter does,” Rosen made clear. “This is his track record. He goes to a team and they get an immediate bump. He comes in with a clear structure and that’s the way you have to play with no bending of the rules. The guys buy-in and that’s why he’s one of the top coaches in the NHL. Mika Zibanejad told me after the game against Detroit, they understand what makes them successful and that’s the way Laviolette wants them to play. That’s why the Rangers hired him.”
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Forever Blueshirts would like to thank Dan Rosen for joining the show and giving us some of his time.
Note: Steven Pappas conducted the interview.