The New York Rangers are playing, bar none, their best hockey of the season now. Last night’s win over the Flyers was arguably their most complete performance since I can remember. Everything seems to be clicking at the moment, and it’s hard to find anything to complain about.
Let’s go over why the Rangers have won so many games recently:
First: Rick Nash is back and doing Rick Nash types of things. The big man is using his big frame and driving to the net, as opposed to playing around the perimeter. He’s getting a clean breakaway pretty much every game, and now we can all see why Team Canada selected him once again.
Second: Henrik Lundqvist, for the most part, has come back to life. The “soft” goals were killing Lundqvist in the first half of the season, but recently he’s managed to cut out those rookie goaltender type of mistakes. It’s been a tough season for nearly every Ranger at one point or another this year, but I don’t think anyone’s been harder hit than Henrik. This season he just hasn’t been himself; but hopefully he’s starting to come back around and get back to the playing level which earned him his current contract.
Third: Our depth at center is finally showing up. For a while we had Derek Stepan and Derrick Brassard struggle offensively, and Brad Richards was the only one really playing at a respectable level. I’m going to argue that if all three struggle at the same time, the whole team will find it hard to win games. It’s crucial that at least one if not two of these guys plays well every night to give the team a chance to win.
Finally: I’m glad to see the defense take a more active role in trying to create offense. The team needs more shots on goal from its defensemen and finally, they look competent, for the most part, in the offensive zone. Now if we could only get them to be able to move the puck up the ice quicker to gain more odd man chances, as well as create potential scoring chances. Though I will say, quick puck movement is something this team’s defense has struggled with even going back to the John Tortorella era. Whether that means we need different personnel, or a change in coaching tactics, it is hard to say. But I really think if the Rangers want to make that leap into becoming a more explosive team they’ll need better puck movement out of the defensive zone. It won’t happen overnight; but, perhaps if they keep playing at a high level the entire defense can gain confidence.
The Rangers need to continue this run of winning but at the same time they can’t get upset if they lose a game. They have to get right back out there and try to win the next one, and if they do that then I’m willing to say they found consistency.
Be sure to follow me on twitter @11Matt_Josephs8