The Rangers are well ahead of last year as we look back at 2014

The New York Rangers celebrate an OT win against Detroit this season. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Rangers celebrate an OT win against Detroit this season. (Photo: Jared Silber/Getty Images)

As 2014 comes to a close, we take a look at just how far ahead the Rangers are this year compared to last season. Amidst all the complaining about why isn’t Duclair playing more or why is Tanner Glass even playing at all, Alain Vigneault has this edition of the Blueshirts rolling.

After 34 games in 2013/14 the Rangers were 16-17-1 for only 33 points. If you think that’s bad, the boys only scored 76 times and let it 91! Yes, those numbers are correct. The Rangers were an absolute mess and Alain Vigneault replacing John Tortorella was turning into an unmitigated disaster.

Then the Rangers turned it around after a loss in Pittsburgh in early January and went on a massive run to finish with 96 points. Alain Vigneault’s unwavering stubbornness to implement his style with a group that was pounded for years to be simple and grind out wins took hold. So much so, that the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years.

The Rangers MVP so far, Rick Nash (Jared Silber/Getty)

The Rangers MVP so far, Rick Nash (Jared Silber/Getty)

Today, the Blueshirts are well ahead of that pace. After an 8 game winning streak that ended in Dallas, NY is 19-11-4 for 42 points. Even more important to prove¬†they can continue this pace is their 102 goals for and 87 goals against. If they can keep this win rate up they will end up with 101 points, which last season was good for 3rd in the conference. Even a small dip shouldn’t stop them from making the post-season. In 2013/14, 93 points was all you needed to make the dance in the East. At this stage, it certainly looks like the Rangers will get to defend their ECF title.

Tonight, when¬†2014 becomes 2015 at the stroke of midnight, the Rangers could well have another 2 points in the standings courtesy of the Florida Panthers. This team should be applauded for what they’ve accomplished, an ECF title and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. As they look ahead to 2015, we know that their sights are set on taking that next step.

The early season trials and tribulations have made this team stronger. Through injuries and a mumps outbreak, NY has found gems in Matt Hunwick, Anthony Duclair, Kevin Hayes, Jesper Fast and JT Miller. They are better and deeper than last season, although critics will continue to harp on some of the smallest things.

Kevin Klein celebrates his game winning goal in OT against the Penguins (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Kevin Klein celebrates his game winning goal in OT against the Penguins (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

This Rangers team is also probably not finished in its construction. The old man upstairs, Glen Sather will sure enough have a trick or two up his sleeve before the trade deadline. Another center is on the wish list, one that can play a two-way game and win draws in the defensive zone. A move that could certainly be the difference between another loss in the finals to a victory lap with Lord Stanley.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at YardBarker, and MSN. Features have been linked on Sportsnet, NBC, TFP, NY POST, NEWSDAY and more.