New York Rangers leaders talk about the state of team heading into break

new york rangers
Nov 21, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) talks with left wing Chris Kreider (20) and center Mika Zibanejad (93) during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers entered the break with an excellent record of 19-7-4 for 42 points. That places them third in the Metro Division and tied for third overall in the NHL standings with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s been an impressive run so far and the team’s leaders have recognized it.

Chris Kreider, Jacob Trouba, and Mika Zibanejad all spoke heading into the extended break about how well the team has been playing.

“Something we’ve emphasized over the year is to take it one day at a time and get better,” Kreider said. “Our game right now compared to what it was 10-20 games in is the most exciting thing. The balancing act to find ways to win and improving.”

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Rangers leaders on why the team’s been successful

To a man, the Rangers are really ecstatic about where they came from to where they are right now. One of the key reasons for their success was coming together and buying into to what the organization has been trying to build for several seasons.

“If you look at the standings we’ve been doing pretty well,” Zibanejad said. “I think we’ve been taking a lot of steps from the last few years. Not only coming together as a group but on the ice we have a more clear way of how we should play and what really works for us.”

Kreider, who leads the team with 18 goals agrees.

“How quickly we came together and how guys really bought into the culture we’re trying to build here,” Kreider confirmed. “Good teams find ways to win games when they’re not clicking at 100%.”

A lot of credit has to be given to Chris Drury this offseason, who made the moves to bring in players like Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves.

“I think the new guys we brought in have done a fantastic job,” Trouba said. “They’ve brought experience and leadership. The morale of the group is higher – winning games helps with that. It’s been a good atmosphere to be around. It’s fun coming to the rink, working hard for each other.”

Resetting and continuing to improve

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The Rangers recently played a stretch of six games in ten days before having their game against the Montreal Canadiens postponed. It certainly wore on the team and has them appreciative of this long lay-off.

“We’ve played a lot of games here,” Kreider explained about the schedule that included 4 more road than home games. “Team’s a little banged up. A little sick and tired. A little sick and tired of being sick and tired. (We need) a good few days to get healthy and hit the reset button.”

Those sentiments were also echoed by Zibanejad, who was on a bit of a tear before the break with four points in two games.

“I’m sure every guy is going to spend Christmas differently, but it’s going to be up to what the coaches want on how we will go about (staying in condition),” Zibanejad noted. “It’s nice to take a few days to not think about anything else but family and reset your mind and body. You rarely get an opportunity to rest up for the back half of the season, so we’ll try and take advantage of it.”

When the team does resume action against the Detroit Red Wings at MSG on December 27, they know it will be about playing more consistently.

“We talked after the first 10 games how we were playing but got points anyway,” Zibanejad said. “We’ve been more consistent and that’s a good sign. First goal is to make the playoffs and we’re doing a good job going towards that, but there’s things we can do better.”

Praising Gerard Gallant

The last time the team was halted in their tracks was during the 2019-20 season due to the pandemic. They were one of the NHL’s hottest teams and expectations were high heading to the bubble for the qualifiers. Unfortunately, they were easily dispatched in three games by the Carolina Hurricanes.

Of course, the Rangers have a new coach and veteran bench boss in Gerard Gallant. He has the team feeling confident and receiving high praise from the Blueshirts blue-line leader.

“I think (Gallant) brings a good attitude,” Trouba lauded. “He expects you to work hard. If you make a mistake it’s not the end of the world, but you’re expected to bring a certain level of effort and show up for work every day. When things are needed to be said, he says them and when they don’t, he lets you play hockey. That’s pretty nice as a player.”

The Rangers main goal is to make the playoffs this season, after 30 games they are well on their way to achieving it.

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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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