Rangers ‘fighting for wins’ during epic winning streak

NHL: Stadium Series-New York Rangers at New York Islanders
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Laviolette admitted it hasn’t always been the same script for the New York Rangers during their 10-game winning streak, one that is now tied for longest in franchise history.

But there is one common thread the Rangers coach has noticed and is quite happy about.

“I like the way guys are fighting for wins right now,” Laviolette said Thursday in New Jersey, when the Rangers extended their win streak to nine with a 5-1 road victory.

Since then, the Rangers edged the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Saturday to tie their all-time longest winning streak, pulling even with Blueshirts squads from 1939-40 and 1972-73.

The Rangers can set a new franchise record when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. If they win that game, it’ll also tie them for the 20th-longest winning streak in NHL history. The all-time League record is 17 straight wins by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992-93.

Earlier this season, the Edmonton Oilers won 16 in a row, falling just short of the all-time mark.

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Peter Laviolette says Rangers ‘digging in’ to win games during streak

NHL: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Circling back to Laviolette’s point, not every win in their streak has been an exact copy of those before it. But there’s been a deep resolve the past 10 games, a team toughness, both mentally and physically, that’s stood out.

Look no further than Saturday afternoon when a furious Flyers surge tied the game early in the third period. Less than four minutes later, with the Wells Fargo Center crowd rocking, the Rangers regained the lead on a goal from their fourth line. Matt Rempe, who sparked them with a rousing heavyweight fight against Nicolas Deslauriers in the opening minutes, scored his first NHL goal on a double deflection. That proved to be the game winner.

“We’re really digging in. And I think that’s really important inside the game, just making sure that you compete for 60 minutes,” Laviolette said.

Certainly, the Rangers did that in New Jersey, and before that in a 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Perhaps the most extreme example was how they banded together and rallied from 4-1 and 5-2 down to defeat the Islanders in overtime outdoors in the Stadium Series at MetLifeStadium.

“It’s not been one clear thing,” Laviolette explained. “I feel like you’re constantly moving, trying to get to the game you want. Our guys are receptive, they work hard in practice, the meetings and video. We’re trying to get better.”

One recent theme has been Igor Shesterkin’s return to top form. The All-Star goalie seems to have put his December and January woes behind him, as has the team in front of him, it should be noted.

Shesterkin has won his past six starts and allowed three goals on 122 shots in his past three games. Since the All-Star break, Shesterkin has allowed one goal or fewer in four of six starts, including a shutout against the Calgary Flames on Feb. 12. He was less than three minutes away from shutting out the Devils, too.

“Shesty’s been great,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said.

He’s not the only one. Alexis Lafreniere has scored three goals in the past two games and six in his past 10. Vincent Trocheck is on a five-game point streak (five goals, three assists). Artemi Panarin has 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) and four three-point games in the winning streak. Chris Kreider has 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in the past 10 games.

But there’s also been solid play from the bottom six, and the emergence of key contributors like Rempe, Jonny Brodzinski, Kaapo Kakko and Adam Edstrom. The Rangers have been more physical, dictating things and playing on their own terms. 

And their special teams have been special. Their penalty kill set the tone in New Jersey by successfully killing off Rempe’s five-minute match penalty in the first period and a four-minute double minor against Kakko in the second. In Philly, the PK was a perfect 4-for-4 in a one-goal victory. And the power play may be 1-for-14 the past three games, but don’t forget how it saved the day by scoring three times, including twice in the closing minutes of regulation, at the Stadium Series.

All that just proves Laviolette’s point. It’s something different every night.

That’s how good teams win, and string together victories. Resiliency. That’s also how a team wins the Stanley Cup championship.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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