NEW YORK, NY – Last night’s overtime loss to the Devils notwithstanding, the New York Rangers have had a solid festive period against some tough opponents. They beat the Islanders before Christmas. They took a point against the Lightning in Tampa, losing in a shootout. Then they beat the Florida Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes, breaking the Canes’ 8-game win streak. The Blueshirts backed that up with a 4-1 thumping of the Canadiens in Montreal.
The Broadway Blues sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division, on 50 points after 40 games. It’s quite the turnaround for a team that had been underperforming two months ago. So much so that circulating rumours (Canadian spelling for Angry Ward) alleged the team was bracing for head coaching change.
The Rangers have played well enough to allay those fears and put the rumours (Canadian spelling again for A-Dubya) to bed. Gallant’s job appears to be safe and the group proved that they can beat good teams, taking 7 out of 10 points during this stretch against tough opponents. They’ve done it with contributions from the defensemen and solid goaltending. They have been getting goals and assist from all three defensive pairs. K’Andre Miller and Adam Fox have both turned their seasons around after a very rough start. Both have been collecting assists at a good clip and even scoring the odd goal.
Igor Shesterkin has gotten closer to his Vezina-winning form of late. He’s still not all the way there but it has been an improvement. Even Jaroslav Halak has played better of late, collecting a couple of wins during this stretch. But while the Rangers have turned a disappointing season around, there are still some areas of concern. They miss the net on an alarming amount of their shot attempts. Think Star Wars Storm Trooper aim. It has been an issue these last few weeks but it is something that is correctable.
After a decent start to the season on face-offs, the centers have been pretty awful of late. Especially on special teams. It is something they will definitely need to improve going forward. Indeed, face-offs are one of the reason the power play has gone through some rough patches of late.
The New York Hockey Rangers have managed to win games and get points of late. They made it through their toughest stretch of the season schedule-wise winning 7 of 10 points on offer. Hopefully, they continue to improve and are able to add on at the deadline. This could be another deep NHL Playoffs push from this Blueshirts squad.