It took six games. The New York Rangers finally looked like a good hockey team. After being out west for roughly three weeks, the team finally saw Eastern Standard Time and responded in a big way. They possessed the puck, played good defense, and had top-notch goaltending. However, none of that seemed relevant after learning of the broken thumb sustained by Ryan Callahan.
The Rangers will have to adapt their game for the next three to four weeks while they are without the services of their captain. While this is reminiscent of the start of the season, fans should be more encouraged now than before.
Though not completely there yet, the Rangers have been getting up to speed on Alain Vigneault’s system. After looking lost in San Jose and Anaheim, the Rangers played a significantly better game in St. Louis. They followed that performance up with an even better showing in a wining effort against the Capitals. Remember that this is a work in progress. It is getting better.
The power play is scoring goals. Ok, they aren’t scoring a lot of goals, but 4 goals on their first 20 chances (a 20% success rate) is a step in the right direction. It is also ahead of last years pace when they only converted on 15.7% of their chances, a lowly 23rd overall in the league.
Henrik Lundqvist looks comfortable. Concerns about his contract situation and the size of his equipment should be forgotten about. He is an all world talent and while Callahan is the leader of the team, Lundqvist is the backbone. When he is on top of his game, he can lead the team single handedly. If he continues to play like he did last Wednesday in Washington, the Rangers will be ok.
Without Rick Nash and now Ryan Callahan, the Rangers will need players to step up. J.T. Miller will move into a top six role and should see enough ice time to be productive. Carl Hagelin has been taking contact in practice and hopefully will make his season debut soon. It will be tough without the captain, but as long as the team continues to progress and Henrik plays like Henrik, the Rangers will continue to win games.