MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NY – The New York Rangers are playing some great hockey right now. They currently sit atop the Metropolitan Division on 95 points, five points ahead of the Fishsticks with three games in hand. And seven points ahead of Sidney & The ice Birdies with two fewer games played.
In the absence of King Henrik, Cam Talbot has been stellar in net. His GAA has dropped precipitously over the past couple of weeks. He’s found his form and now makes the saves he needs to make. The Rangers have only given up six goals in their last seven games. And a lot of credit needs to go to the Blueshirts’ backup goalie. Lundqvist should be back in the fold any day now. It should be interesting to see how things go down the stretch if Lundqvist gets off to a slow (re)start.
In front of Talbot, the Rangers defensemen have been playing shut-down defence, often times not letting shots get through. Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal have both had great seasons. The trade for Keith Yandle was made ever more important by Kevin Klein’s injury. Klein had been one of the Rangers’ best defensemen. But after taking an Ovechkin slapshot to the arm, he won’t be back until just before the playoffs start. Yandle has been good so far. There haven’t been too many signs of the turnovers that plagued him in Phoenix. Lets hope it stays that way.
Dan Boyle hasn’t really been good, but he hasn’t been bad either. Although he was probably at fault for the Blackhawks’ goal Wednesday night. After hitting the post he was a tad lazy getting back defensively which gave Brad Richards all the time he needed to beat Talbot for the only goal in a pretty boring game. Boyle still brings a good deal to the Rangers offensively, and despite being error-prone, he hasn’t been as bad as some people make him out to be.
Up front, the Rangers need to find their scoring form again. Rick Nash is struggling to find the net. Derek Stepan is going through a long scoring drought. Martin St. Louis was hardly lighting the lamp before he was injured. Now he’ll be absent for most of this stretch run. The Rangers need to find ways to put the biscuit in the basket more regularly or else they’ll be doomed come playoff time. That the Blueshirts keep winning is a testament to how well they have played defensively and the stellar efforts of Standing Tall Talbot.
The good thing is that the Rangers are going through this scoring drought with a month left in the season and not with a week left in the season. There is plenty of time to turn things around. And with the talent they have through all four lines, you should bet on the goals coming sooner or later.
With Lundqvist coming back soon (or Talbot keeping the starting job) and MSL and Kevin Klein being back in the fold before the playoffs start, things are still looking good for the Rangers. The Islanders and Penguins have been sputtering lately. Hopefully the Rangers can invoke the Spirit of ’94 with the President’s Trophy (and hopefully more).
Come back for somebody that still dresses like it’s 1994, Junoir Blaber.