NEW YORK, NY – We’re about a fifth of the way through the NHL season and the New York Rangers have picked up where they left off in the regular season last year. The Blueshirts lead the Metropolitan Division after winning 12 of their first 16, including last night’s 6-3 doubling up of a good St. Louis team. That one made it seven in a row.
The keys to success so far this season have been stout goaltending and a healthy lineup. Henrik Lundqvist has been in fine form to start the season. He’s on pace for a career best in goals against average.
In front of Lundqvist, the defense has played superbly. Aided by the fact that Dan Boyle has been a healthy scratch for most of the season, the backline has been stout and is setting the platform to launch the high -peed offense that Alain Vigneault has honed over the last few seasons. After a rough couple of games where the Blueshirts couldn’t seem to find the net, the goals are coming in droves now.
Mats Zuccarello is healthy and playing incredible hockey. After taking a clapper to the ear in the postseason, there was a fear that Zuc might not ever play again.
And any fears that he wouldn’t be the same player if he made it back were quickly allayed as he has been one of the Rangers’ best forwards in the early part of the season.
Rookie Oscar Lindberg has been lighting the lamp regularly and ranks among the top rookies in goals. And this year’s NHL rookie class is especially deep. Lindberg has been with Kevin Hayes and Viktor Stalberg and the line has been the Rangers’ most productive.
With Stalberg killing penalties and Jared Stoll reinforcing the fourth line and winning face offs, the Rangers were finally able to jettison Tanner Glass. They are a much better team for it. Glass will be shattered. Literally.
If they can stay healthy and Lundqvist keeps playing like he has been, then the Blueshirts are sure to march back to the Eastern Finals and hopefully further. With a little luck, they may be back in the Finals.
Speaking of luck, Lucky Irishman Daniel Murphy is saying slainte to the New York Mets and Mets Nation. Today is the deadline for his decision and I’ll bet my Lucky Charms he doesn’t take the 15.8 million dollar pot of gold, opting for a longer contract – probably at last per yer – elsewhere.