Prior to yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, the news wasn’t pretty. Between the blogs and the papers, descriptions abounded of the Rangers’ lack of scoring, of size, determination, and how the team is really just a .500 club. This was repeated in the NY Post today. Even more doubts are on display as the Rangers look to face off at 2pm, returning home from a 3-2 road trip, against their former head coach John Tortorella, and his Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks, owners of a winning record at 13-9-4, and 2-5-2 in their last nine games, have their own concerns, and despite their record are outside of the playoff bubble, largely due to the new format.
In contrast, the Rangers were officially in second place in the Metropolitan Division yesterday morning, and despite their loss are in the thick of vying for playoff contention, in third place today. It is still early enough in the season whereby much can change, but the Rangers are benefiting from being in a division in which only the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-0 victors against a tough Lightning team, are the only reliably winning team.
Lets’ add some notes of optimism as we get set for more Ranger hockey today: the Rangers have the best ROW of the contending teams. If you look at the division standings the Rangers have 13 ROW and the Capitals, who they seesawed with yesterday have 7. Why are we even standings watching in late November? Because the ROW is significant as a tie breaker. Building on that number can only help in such a tight race. Despite all we hear about how the Rangers are often in close games, they have seldom gone to overtime this year, winning once in the 5 minute session. So, they have 13 wins with the Caps being the only team to tie that, but 12 of the Ranger wins come in Regulation (R) and one in the 5 minute overtime session (OW=Overtime Win). Shootout wins do not count. Washington has 6 of these! The Rangers are winning their games in the first 60 minutes, for the most part. Let’s take this as an encouraging sign. Maybe that is all they will need against a fragile group led by their former coach; he too has rowed through troubled waters.