New York Rangers fourth line just one of many reasons to give Thanks

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Nov 21, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren (55) celebrates a win against the Buffalo Sabres with center Kevin Rooney (17) and left wing Alexis Lafrenière (13) at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thanksgiving Rangers fans!

Hopefully as you read this, your home is filling with the smell of turkey and all the trimmings. Even if it isn’t, I hope you are safe and healthy. Wishing you all the best.

As for the New York Rangers, they have a lot to be thankful for as we hit the Thanksgiving break. Let’s take a look at some of those reasons that have the Blueshirts near the top of the NHL with a 12-4-3 record.

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Gerard Gallant has the team clicking

The Blueshirts hired the 58 year veteran bench boss with nine NHL seasons of coaching experience this summer to take them to the next level. He has the team off to an excellent start, and is pushing all the right buttons both on and off the ice.

“We weren’t happy with our first 10 games even though we had a good record,” Gerard Gallant said after beating the Islanders 4-1. “I think we’ve played better since then and it’s coming together.”

As the Rangers keep winning, they continue to improve in the process. Gallant deserves a ton of credit for this and the organization should be thankful he was available.

Igor Shesterkin has been outstanding

While the Rangers were working out the kinks in their game, Shesterkin was stealing points.

This season the 25 year-old has posted Vezina worthy numbers. After last night’s relatively quiet night, where he faced only 21 shots, he picked up his 10th win of the season. That is tied for second most in the NHL.

Shesty, as his teammates call him, also has a stellar .935 SV% and a low GAA of just 2.12 on the year.

Impressive and living up to the billing of being Henrik Lundqvist’s heir apparent.

The 4th line has arrived

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Both Kevin Rooney and Ryan Reaves have been mainstays on the Rangers 4th line this season. They’ve played fairy well with Dryden Hunt on the wing, but when Barclay Goodrow joined the group recently, it seemed to take them to another level.

In their last two games together they have combined for two goals, five assists, and seven points. Both Rangers wins.

“They were great, they did their job tonight obviously,” Gerard Gallant said about his 4th line. “Reavo made some great plays, Rooney got a couple of goals, and Goodrow was great. Our 4th line was the difference for me tonight.”

The Islanders have set the bar hight with their Identity Line of Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, and Matt Martin. If the Gallant is wise (and he is), he’ll keep the Rangers trio together.

Chris Kreider is a cheat code

The Rangers longest tenured player is having his greatest season ever.

Kreider, 30, scored twice last night to bring his total up 15 goals on the season. When the Rangers are on the PP, he has become a cheat code (for the gamers out there). His 9 power play tallies are second in the NHL behind only Leon Draisaitl’s.

“When you’re a visiting coach coming into NY, you see Chris Kreider and you say ‘there’s a complete hockey player,'” Gallant said. “I love what he’s done for us. He plays hard every night.”

Last season, Kreider scored 14 goals in first 21 games and finished the year with just 20 in 50 games. So the question of consistency will linger, but what a start for him and the Blueshirts.

Adam Fox’s Norris Trophy season was no one hit wonder

Bobby Orr was the only sophomore in league history win the Norris Trophy until Fox did it last season.

While a few may have had their doubts if he could put together another similar season so young in his career, Fox is putting them to bed.

This season, Fox has been another tour de force on both sides of the puck. He leads the NHL in scoring for defensemen with 19 points in 19 games.

Not bad for a 23 year-old from Jericho, LI.

Other thankful tidbits

While the light is shining brightly on some other players, Artemi Panarin has started to find his game with 19 points in 19 contests. Same can be said for Mika Zibanejad who has 16 points on the year. Both players have another level to hit which should only make this team better.

The play of Jacob Trouba has been excellent and his partner K’Andre Miller is starting to figure out he can do more offensively. Alexis Lafrenière is also slowly finding his game in just his second year in the NHL.

Finally, Kaapo Kakko after a long scoreless streak has a five game points scoring streak with 3 goals and 3 assists for six points. Ryan Strome also continues to roll with 12 points in 15 games this year.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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