Rangers’ Start Surprising Everyone

Going into this season, there were no expectations placed on the New York Rangers.

This team, in the beginning stages of a rebuild with a new head coach, a few new youngsters, and a new approach. Basically put, it has the makings of a terrible season.

Except, it hasn’t been. So far at least, it appears that the Blueshirts are out to prove everyone wrong about that.

After coming from behind by scoring four unanswered goals and defeating the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 5-3 on November 6, the team is now 7-7-1 and has won four straight games.

With the win, the Blueshirts have 15 points and are just three points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders. It is still early in the season, but if this team has dreams of making the playoffs, it would be good for them to stay within striking distance for as long as they can.

While it is obviously still very early in the season, what the Rangers have been able to accomplish so far is pretty amazing considering that they are rebuilding and are trying to be contenders in the future. In fact, this team has been a ton of fun to watch.

For starters, it’s been great seeing future Hall of Fame masked man Henrik Lundqvist turn back the clock a bit. At 36 years of age, Lundqvist currently sports a 2.61 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.

Yes, that goals against doesn’t exactly spell elite, but this is a young defense and team that he is playing behind. What’s impressive is that he has stopped 92 percent of the shots he has faced this season, many of them of the high-quality variety.

Another player that has been a lot of fun to watch is 23-year-old defenseman Neal Pionk. While he still has a lot of work to do in his own zone (as of November 6 he is a -6), he is someone that has provided solid offense from the team’s back end so far this season.

Pionk has seven points and has shown that he has a great shot, can make great passes, and is not afraid to rush the puck up the ice. A perfect example of this is the game-winning goal he scored against the Canadiens on November 6 as he scored on an end-to-end rush and looked like Brian Leetch in doing so.

What’s also been fun to see is how the team’s new head coach, David Quinn, has been handling his team so far. He has held them accountable, has allowed them to be creative, has given a lot of opportunities to his younger players, and at least right now, he has the club buying into his system.

If you are a Rangers’ fan, you have to be happy with the way the team has played so far. Yes, I am sure many of you want this team to tank in order to get a high draft pick at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, but you should know by now that the Rangers are not going to do that.

The Rangers are a lot of fun to watch right now and with the team on a four game winning streak, the team could be even more entertaining to watch going forward.

*Photo: Newsday

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