NEW YORK, NY – We’re a few weeks from Christmas and the rebuilding New York Rangers are still in playoff position, sitting in third place in the Metropolitan Division. While the Blueshirts have played some stellar hockey at home, their form on the road leaves a lot to be desired.
The Rangers have three wins in 12 attempts on the road this season. And all three of those wins came in overtime. Last night, the high-scoring Ottawa Senators shut them oot in the Canadian capitol. It looked like the Rangers were barely trying. It was an ugly game all around. Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson recorded his first shutout of the season last night. If this Rangers team is going to make the playoffs, the will need to improve dramatically on the road.
David Quinn’s side have been good at home, winning 10 of their 14 games at Madison Square Garden. Henrik Lundqvist has been playing like a Vezina Trophy candidate on home ice. On the road the team has not played well in front of Hank. There has been a lack of effort all around away from the Garden.
But all in all, the Rangers are playing a lot better than expected this season. They were expected to be near the bottom of the league and vying for a top draft pick in next year’s entry draft. Instead they’re in prime position to make a playoff push come the spring, which may complicate their plans for Kevin Hayes.
There’s a long way to go until the trade deadline on February 26th and the wheels could come off before then, but the Rangers might now be looking to hold on to the impending Unrestricted Free Agent. If they do keep Hayes at the deadline, they would probably try to make a deal with the 26-year old. If they keep him and fail to make a deal, then the Blueshirts could potentially get nothing for him if he signs with another team when free agency begins on July 1st. I don’t think it will come to that. The Rangers will still likely be sellers at the deadline, at least in regards to Hayes.
Filip Chytil continues to improve in his rookie season. The young centre is getting more ice time thanks to his solid play. He will be a good NHLer once his development is complete. I don’t think Chytil will ever be a 50-goal type of player, but he will certainly be a top-six forward for a long time.
On the other hand, Lias Andersson is still trying to find his feet on the Rangers. The 20-year old Swede is now with the big team after starting the season in Hartford, but his play needs to improve if he is going to stick around. Andersson is a good young player, but he has not developed as quickly as the Blueshirts brass would have liked. It’s too early to give up on Andersson, but he’s still got a long way to go to be a viable long-term NHL player.
That’s it for now, come back tomorrow for a guy that likes pinching in the neutral zone, Junoir Blaber.