NEW YORK, NY – The NHL season is entering it’s Olympic break. But due to #Covid, the NHL players won’t be participating in Beijing. Instead, teams will get a two-week break… for the most part. Due to Covid cancellations teams have a lot of games to make up, and the league is taking advantage of this scheduled break to make up a lot of those games. For instance, the Islanders have played eight fewer games than the Rangers. That means Isles will be making up games the next two weeks while the Rangers get a long break.
The break gives the Rangers a chance to get healthy and rest up for a tough run-in to the end of the season and hopefully a deep playoff push. The break will give the likes of Adam Fox, who has been the Blueshirts’ best player, a chance to get back to full health and not rush back into the lineup.
The Broadway Blues enter the break on the heels of a great win against the Florida Panthers who lead the Atlantic Division. NY came back from a 2-1 deficit to win 5-2. It was the most complete game the Rangers have played since Fox’s injury. It is a good sign of the Rangers adapting and being able to change their game without their best player.
I guess I should say best skater as net-minder Igor Shesterkin has had an amazing season so far. He should be a Vezina Trophy finalist and I would back him to win at this point. Shesterkin came to New York with some massive shoes to fill. Henrik Lundqvist was just honored by having his #30 retired and raised to the rafters at Madison Square Garden. If Shesty keeps playing at this level, he may do the same one day. Igor has a 2.10 GAA which is good for third in the league this season. And he’s kept the Rangers in a lot of games that they probably shouldn’t have been.
Up front the Rangers have been led by Chris Kreider who has 33 goals in 47 games, good for first in the NHL. Kreids has more goals than Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin combined and he needs 21 goals in the team’s remaining 35 games to tie Jaromir Jagr’s Rangers Record total from the ’05-’06 season. It has been a special season for Kreider, who has been scoring goals in dirty areas in front of goal. Lots of tipped and deflected goals. He hasn’t been sniping from the point or slot. But he hasn’t needed to.
The Rangers are in a good position and this break will serve them well. They may drop a couple of places in the standings as teams make up games in hand, but they should be much fresher down the stretch. Their next game is February 15th. Until then I’ll enjoy some Olympic hockey and watch the odd NHL makeup game.
That’s it for me. Leave your thoughts below and come back tomorrow for Short Matt, who is up to his eyes in [rugby] balls.