New York Rangers opened the Best Present Ever

Here are my Top 4 Surprise Teams Per Division so far…

New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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The New York Rangers opened the Best Gift Ever, when they unwrapped First Place in the Metro Division, as well as First Place in the Eastern Conference, and depending on the day, First Place Overall in the NHL. 

Wowza.  I am surprised to say the least.  I knew that the Blueshirts were going to have a good year.  However, not in my wildest dream, did I see them in First Place in any situation.  That said, here are 3 other "Surprise Teams" per Division up until the New Year.

Atlantic Division - Boston Bruins
All they do is win.  They have lost leadership and experience over the years due to retirement and the Salary Cap, yet all they do is replace those moving parts and continue to win.  They were supposed to take a step back this year.  I don’t think they are missing a beat. 

B's are...
Offense:  12th overall in the NHL
Defense:  5th overall in the NHL= Depth on D + 2 very good Goalies = W’s.
PP% - 5th overall in the NHL
PK% - 3rd overall in the NHL
FO% - 22nd overall in the NHL

Cracks in the Ice: Bruins
1. Losing the Faceoffs means chasing the game from the get-go.
2. The Bruins head out for a long road trip from Feb 22 to March 07th. We shall see...
3. The B’s end the season with a bunch of tough games from March 21 to April 16th. ...umm ok.

Metropolitan Division - New York Rangers
I expected NYR to be good, but not this good.  The Rangers have the right core players, so now it all comes down to team depth, heart and the will to win.  Player health in March, means trade deadline pick ups for the Rangers Cup Run.

Blueshirts are...
Offense:  13th overall in the NHL
Defense:  6th overall in the NHL = Depth on D + 2 exceptionally good Goalies = Dubs.
PP% - 1st overall in the NHL = is a Game Changer.
PK% - 5th overall in the NHL
FO% - 4th overall in the NHL

Cracks in the Ice: Rangers
1. Kakko + Chytil are both on the Long–Term Injury List.  Is there enough team depth here?
2. If the NYR Power Play gets shut down, it might mean Lights Out on Broadway.
3. The Rangers face tough tests from March 02 to March 23...yikes.

Central Division - Winnipeg Jets
A new coach, new players that want to play there, and a new “Defense First” system, means the Winnipeg Jets are back.  Gone are some stars, however, back is the work ethic, needed in order to win each night in the NHL.   A nice surprise for sure.

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Flying J's are...
Offense:  8th overall in the NHL
Defense:  1st overall in the NHL = a very good Goalie can make up for other issues.
(See Price in Montreal and Lundqvist in NYR, as prime examples from the most recent past)
PP% - 23rd overall in the NHL
PK% - 26th overall in the NHL
FO% - 27th overall in the NHL

Cracks in the Ice: Jets
1. Special Teams could re-route these Jets. 
2. I see this roster as having Light, Non-Leaded Jet Fuel.   Playoff Hockey success is fueled by  Leaded…and I mean Heavy Leaded Fuel.  (See Vegas Roster size to compare)
3. March 19th until the end of the season could be the collapse all Jets fans fear, but are expecting.  Remember last year?  Ouch, so do I.

Pacific Division - Vancouver Canucks
I never saw this one coming what-so-ever.  Is this smoke and mirrors, over-achieving, or simply drinking to much of that Kraken cool aid?  I don’t get it and I’m not seeing it. Surprised? Shocked.

Knucks are...
Offense:  1st overall in the NHL = wow...how? Lotto 6-40-9...that's how.
Defense:  4th overall in the NHL = I'm not sure I can believe my eyes here.
PP% - 9th overall in the NHL
PK% - 22nd overall in the NHL
FO% - 17th overall in the NHL

Cracks in the Ice: Canucks
1. There was never a world where I saw J.T. Miller in the NHL Top 7 in scoring.
2. A weak Penalty Kill means you are down 1-0, in every game.  And losing the Faceoff means that you are chasing the game from the get-go…Uh-oh.
3. Feb 06 to March 16 will be “The Test” for these “Can-nuckleheads.” Are you for real?

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New York Rangers Record as of January 08.2024
26-10-2= 54
1st - in the Metropolitan Division
1st – Tied - in Eastern Conference
2nd – Tied - Overall in NHL

My View from the Cheap Seats    
Section: TV     Row: PVR     Seat: The Couch
I can see a fork in the road up ahead. I love the fact that the New York Rangers are sitting in First Place as of January 08.2024.  However, I would rather drop a few spots in the standings, but have everybody healthy and ready to battle for the Coolest Trophy in all of sports, come April.  Or maybe, as Yogi says, “ its déjà vu 1994 all over again.”

The Boston Bruins proved to all of us last year that, being the best team overall, (President Trophy Winner), just means that you were really good at kicking most of the “Lesser Teams” throughout the Regular Season.  It does not guarantee Playoff Success.

Only 19 times, from 1970 until today, has an NHL Team won the Presidents’ Trophy as well as go on to win Stanley Cup in the same year. (Bos ’70 + ’72, Mtl ’73 + ’76 + ’77 + ‘78, Phila ‘74+ ’75), and since 1980, (let’s call this the modern era…lol) only 11 times has the Presidents’ Trophy winner also won Stanley Cup…NYI '81 + '82 Edm '84 +’87, Clg ’89, NYR ’94, Dal ’99, Avs ’01, Det ‘02+’08, Chic ’13.

Quote of the Day:
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Yogi Berra  – New York Yankees