Discover what the New York Rangers have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving after feasting on the league through the first quarter of the 2023-24 season.
The New York Rangers are flying with a 13-3-1 start, are atop the Metropolitan Division, and are third in the NHL. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s recount what the Blueshirts should be thankful for.
The Five Game Bender sweep:
The Rangers were booed off the Madison Square Garden ice after a 4-1 Loss to the Nashville Predators on October 19th. After that, they never lost in regulation for another month, 11 games.
The team united before our eyes with a history-making five-game road trip sweep. Ashallof fame broadcaster Sam Rosen said, “They put on the miles and put on the smiles.”
The epic road trip started with a beatdown of the Seattle Kraken, where they made the climate pretty chilly in Climate Pledge Arena, scoring a 4-1 victory. Next up, they blew out Calgary’s candle in a 3-1 Rangers comeback win over the Flames. And speaking of fire, Jonathan Quick shut out the Edmonton Oilers with a clean 3-0 sheet.
The journey continued, and the Blueshirts engaged in a special teams showdown against the Vancouver Canucks, sealing the deal with a 4-3 overtime victory, courtesy of Igor Shesterkin’s clutch saves and K’Andre Miller’s winner. Finally, they outpaced the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in another nail-biting bonus time thriller, with Mika Zibanejad doing the honors.
The bender sweep marked the first time this team had swept a trip of five games or more in franchise history. Since then, the team has never looked back. It’s served as the catalyst for their strong start to the season.
Benny is the Goaltender’s Best Buddy:
Benoit Allaire, the goalie whisperer, has been on a wild ride lately. First, he guided the Rangers’ netminders to four straight wins with three different goalies. And as if that’s not enough, he witnessed his star student, Henrik Lundqvist, enter the Hall of Fame. Those two were side by side for all of Lundqvist’s 15 NHL seasons.
He produced another Vezina winner in Igor Shesterkin. Yet when he was sidelined for four games, Allaire worked magic with Jonathan Quick. Quick, the polar opposite of Lundqvist plays with instinct and reaction, a departure from the modern elite goalie style. It’s a shift that might be the key to Quick’s resurgence after a challenging season with the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights, even if it ended with his third Stanley Cup.
Allaire, the maestro of crease strategies, adjusted Quick’s game, and the results speak volumes. Last season, Quick struggled with a dismal .865 save percentage. Fast forward to this year, and Quick is rocking a 5-0-1 record with a league-best .940 save percentage, a 1.86 goals-against average, and the third-best goals saved above expected at +9.3, not to mention two shutouts.
There was also the one-game wonder of Louis Domingue. Domingue, trained by François Allaire, Benoit’s stricter brother, found his groove with the Rangers. With Allaire’s guidance, he made 26 saves on 27 shots in a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on November 9th.
“We’ve worked on point-shot deflections,” Domingue said. “I was wanting to attack a little more, and Benny is much more about letting the game come to you, so that changes my depth in the crease, where I’m standing. He’s got this way of simplifying the game, telling you to let the game come to you, that’s been my big thing to take away from him.”
No goalie coaches are in the Hall of Fame yet, but maybe, just maybe, the Allaire brothers will change that narrative someday. Meanwhile, Benoit Allaire continues to keep Rangers goaltending at an elite level. The last three weeks? It’s another chapter in the story of one Hall of Famer and three current students racking up those wins.