PLAYING WITH OLYMPIC FIRE
The Rangers have seven players that will be representing their respective countries next month in Sochi. Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, and Ryan Callahan will be representing the US. Henrik Lundqvist and Carl Hagelin will be representing Sweden. Rick Nash will be representing Canada, and Mats Zuccarello will be representing Norway.
What do all of these players have in common? They are either red-hot or starting to boil. Ryan Callahan has had struggles this season, but on Sunday night he scored a shorthanded goal against Washington, and has a point in six of his last nine games. He’s been heating up since they announced the US national team. Ryan McDonagh for the most part has been solid all season. He has three points in his last five games while being a consistent defender playing against opponents’ top lines.
Rick Nash was named to the Canadian national team on January 7th, and since then he has five goals in seven games with a +/- rating of +6. He’s averaging 4.28 shots per game during that period and standing out as the Rangers’ best player. He’s creating plays, not only for himself, but for Derek Stepan as well. In his last two games, Stepan has two goals and two assists. Nash has been showing everyone why Steve Yzerman chose him to represent Canada.
Henrik Lundqvist is playing like a man deserving of a nickname like “The King”. Lundqvist is 5-1-0 with a 1.34 GAA and a .958 save percentage in his last six games. Zuccarello has been a steady offensive force for most of the season. He has 35 points on the season, only two behind team leader Brad Richards. Zuccarello also has two goals in his last three games, including the game winner in the 1-0 victory against Detroit. Hagelin has been a consistent two way forward for the Rangers, scoring eleven goals on the season, while being a reliable defender and penalty killer.
As an athlete, there is no bigger honor than representing your country and wearing it’s colors. I firmly believe that the players mentioned above, especially Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist have raised their game because they are motivated and are preparing themselves to go for Gold in Sochi. The Olympic Flame represents the theft of fire from Zeus by Prometheus, these Rangers are now carrying that fire with every Rangers win. They will carry that fire into the Olympics and if we’re lucky, to playoff success.
Original article written by Connor Griffin.