The Rangers currently sit in 4th place in the Eastern Conference with 31 points. They trail the league leading Penguins by a mere three points while the Rangers have four games in hand on the Penguins. The Rangers have been arguably the hottest team in the east along with the Boston Bruins (Who never suffered a regulation loss in the month of November) and are making a serious case about being an elite team in the process.
This season the Rangers played five teams whom I consider elite in the Canucks, Sharks, Capitals, Flyers, and Penguins. Their record in those five games? Five regulation victories. Yes, even I am surprised to see that they managed to beat all of those teams and not suffer one loss. Many people wanted to see how the Rangers would fare against their recent three game swing against the Caps, Flyers, and Pens, and the Rangers won all three games. Not many people expected them to win all of those three games, myself included. There are many people out there though when picking the top teams in the NHL they don’t consider the Rangers among the other teams. I think that it’s time people take this team a bit more seriously.
Read more to find out why.
The Rangers started off this season very lazily. Their goaltending was bailing them out big time in the beginning of the year and keeping them barely afloat. Many people were just beginning to see the value of Marc Staal who has missed every game this year with post concussion symptoms. Everyone realized what Marc Staal brought to this team, and how the team could struggle in his absence. Well the team did the complete opposite. Every defenseman in this lineup has stepped up big time to make us even forget that Staal is out of the lineup. That is a scary thought because it’s tough to imagine how much better this team will be with Staal back in the lineup when he returns.
This Rangers team is not a fluke. They have arguably the best goalie in the world with Henrik Lundqvist, and a solid top six, as well as a reliable bottom six. I don’t expect this team to win the Presidents Trophy, but this team is one of the best in the NHL right now. The Rangers right now look extremely similar to John Tortorella’s Lightning team that won the cup in 2004. They forecheck hard, they block shots, and crash the net. That’s John Tortorella hockey to a tee and the Rangers are performing it as well as they possibly could. It might not be the prettiest wins you see from the Rangers every night, but right now they are winning hockey games and that’s all that matters.