How Rangers can change negative narrative after massive win against Avalanche

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

It was shortly before the NHL All-Star break and New York Rangers coach Peter Laviolette was explaining how stringing together some wins could change the narrative around the team.

That narrative was a negative one. The Rangers had just returned from a disappointing 1-2-1 road trip and were 3-5-2 in their previous 10 games, 11-11-2 since Dec. 5.

“You put a winning record together and start to push in the direction that’s going to move us up the standings as opposed to staying at .500,” Laviolette explained.

The Rangers lost the next night to the Vegas Golden Knights but rebounded with a resounding 7-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators that carried them into the break.

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Exciting win against Avalanche sets Rangers up for possible run

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Fast forward nine days and the Rangers came out of the break with an entertaining come-from-behind 2-1 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche, one of the top teams in the League.

For those scoring at home, that’s two wins a row, something accomplished only once (Jan. 14-16) since late December.

“An exciting, persistent win by our guys,” the pleased coach said after the win Monday at MSG.

Which puts the Blueshirts in position to push in the right direction, as Laviolette discussed two weeks ago.

It’d been quite a while since the Rangers defeated an upper echelon team. They went toe-to-toe with the Central Division leaders all game before Artemi Panarin added to his Hart Trophy candidacy with an amazing effort to tie the game midway through the third period. Alexis Lafreniere then brought the house down with his third overtime winner 1:53 into the extra period.

“January wasn’t our best month this season and we talked about wanting to get a good start coming off this break, and we got the win tonight and gotta keep going,” center Mika Zibanejad said. “This one means a lot.”

It does mean a lot because it sets the Rangers up for a possible run. Three of their next four games are at home, where the Blueshirts are 16-7-0 this season. And in the four games leading up to the Stadium Series outdoor contest against the Islanders at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 18, the Rangers play three teams out of the Stanley Cup Playoff mix (Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens). Their next game will be difficult, though, against a Tampa Bay Lightning team that’s won eight of their past nine.

Still, there’s a chance here to open up some space atop the Metropolitan Division standings heading to the NHL trade deadline March 8. Right now the Rangers are four points up on the second-place Carolina Hurricanes, as trade rumors swirl around the Blueshirts.

Important divisional games against the Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils dot the schedule later in the month. That makes this upcoming stretch – and a home-and-home set against the woeful Columbus Blue Jackets to close out the month – critical for the Rangers to get off the .500 treadmill.

That game Monday was a good start to get the Rangers back on the right path.

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