The New York Rangers arrived back in New York on Halloween, only to discover they were in First Place in the Metro Division. Oh, it was no trick, but it sure was quite the treat to see NYR topping the NHL charts at this time of the year.
The Rangers were 2-2-0 on October 21.2023, after a loss to the Preds and sitting at .500, when they grabbed their coats and left for a 5-game road trip up north.
NYR started the road trip by getting a nice W up in Seattle, winning 4-1. The Rangers then decided to cut a swath across Western Canada. They doused the Flames in Calgary with a solid 3-1 win. They Drilled the Oilers in Edmonton with a tight 3-0 W. They took out the Canucks for a late-night drink in Vancouver, winning 4-3 in OT, and they grounded the Jets in Winnipeg, with a very patient 3-2 win in OT as well.
The New York Rangers just made history, folks… Never before, in their storied 97-year history, has a New York Rangers team swept a 5-game road trip. Never. Like Never Ever.
So, why Now? What up?
Well, it’s all about one word: patience.
For the first time in a long time, the New York Rangers appear to be a patient hockey club. No more running around in their own zone or tire fire drills. It’s just pure Zone Patience.
No matter where they play on the rink, the Rangers don’t panic. Period.
I know it all starts with having the best goaltender in the NHL, Shesterkin. When you have an outstanding G-man behind you, someone who is calm in the crease and does not get rattled, it allows you to have fewer panic attacks in your game overall, that’s for sure.
However, there is much more to it.
Overall Defence. Team Defence. An all-out commitment to play D with the pure buy-in to defend by all players, no matter the zone, no matter the score.
Trouba, Miller, Fox, Lindgren, Gustafsson, and Schneider all play tough, hard-nosed D. It does not matter who blocks the shot or who makes a hit as long as the puck gets out of the D-Zone.
This group exudes patience with the puck. They are all calm while under pressure and either make a tape-to-tape outlet pass, bank it high off the glass, chip it off the boards, or reverse flow to maintain puck possession while looking for a better zone exit option.
These guys are all calm and cool with the puck. It is sure lovely to watch.
This group of forwards can light the lamp, as you well know. However, it is their commitment to D-Zone coverage that has helped NYR reduce their overall Goals Against (2nd lowest in the NHL).
All forwards are sticking with their man or in their D-Zone coverages. All the forwards are in good puck support position, allowing for easy Blueshirts zone exits.
These Ranger Centermen can finally win a Face-Off. This group currently sits third in the NHL winning 54.5% of their Face-Offs. That is a far cry from last year, folks.
This also simply means the Blueshirts start out with the puck right away and don’t have to chase the game from the get-go. Also, it’s super nice to watch.
Puck possession and tape-to-tape passing with patience means you can control the tempo of the game, you can let the game unfold, and then take advantage of the opposition’s mistakes.
And that is precisely what the New York Rangers have done over their last five games: Practiced Patience, then took advantage of their opportunities.
7-2-0 = 14pts
1st – in the Metropolitan Division
2nd – in the Eastern Conference
3rd -Tied Overall in NHL
My View from the Cheap Seats
I had the good fortune of being at the Jets vs Rangers Game, in Winnipeg on Monday, October 30.2023.
The one thing that stood out to me was the Rangers displayed a higher level of Patience with the Puck. No rushing a pass or running around blindly giving up the puck. Just Calm Cool Passes to forwards on the fly.
The other thing that I noticed was that NYR had a higher level of Patience with the Game Overall (more than in recent years, I would have to say). For example, the Jets take the lead, and then the Rangers tie it up. The Jets then get a late third-period Power Play. Momentum looks like it wants to shift. NYR weathers the storm then goes down and scores the winner in OT. Now that is overall game patience— No Panic in New York.
There is no doubt this group is a Cup Contender. The real question is, as a unit, can they remain Patient and Healthy heading into April 2024?
The other question is, can they Defend with Patience against the youthful speed of the Canes and the Devils?
Quote of the Day:
Patience (song) – Guns n Roses -Rock Band