RANGERS AT THE BREAK
Before we go “all in” on Olympic hockey, let’s take a quick look at how the Rangers look at the break.
The Blueshirts are in the playoff picture, as they sit 2nd in a very weak Metropolitan Division (oh how I long for the Patrick Division). What is interesting to note is just how hot the Rangers have been since late December. NY was floundering that month at 2-5-2 with awful losses at home versus Winnipeg, Washington and Nashville. It wasn’t until after a loss to the rival NY Islanders that the Rangers started to turn the tide.
It began with a notable early season hero, Cam Talbot. Lundqvist was still struggling badly in December when Cam rattled off two wins against the Wild and Maple Leafs before falling to Washington. The time off served Lundqvist well as he picked up wins in Florida against the Panthers and Lightning.
One more dud was waiting to happen and it very well changed the course of the NY Rangers season. The setting was Pittsburgh and a lackluster performance that sent Derek Dorsett to the IR and the Rangers behind closed doors for the third and hopefully final time. A romp against Toronto to the tune of 7-1 would follow. They stumbled against the Blue Jackets at home but a late third period comeback salvaged a point.
Then in Chicago against the defending Stanley Cup Champions of all teams, they clicked. Inserted into the lineup for the first time, Daniel Carcillo solidified the 4th line and the Rangers began to roll. Rick Nash started scoring and Henrik Lundqvist started closing the door. The boys in blue haven’t really looked back since.
Thanks to a young goalie from Hartford, Lundqvist was given the time to adjust. His incredible goaltending had the Rangers going 16-6-1 since December 22nd. Rick Nash has scored 12 goals during that time (he had only 6 before). As for the King, he has picked up 12 of those 16 victories, including that point in the shootout.
Going forward the Rangers should only get better. The addition of Kevin Klein from the Nashville Predators in the Michael Del Zotto trade has solidified this defense. Players like Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan seem to be breaking out of season long slumps. Also, the surprise play of Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot gives this Blueshirt team scoring depth on three lines. It doesn’t hurt that he 4th line of Boyle, D. Moore and Carcillo have combined for 4 goals and 6 assists as well. The rest of the way should be filled with more goals and more victories. Let’s Go Rangers.