Don’t look now folks, but the New York Rangers are rolling with a capital “R.”
After defeating the New York Islanders for the first time since December 6, 2016 on November 21, the team is now tied for first with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division. Yes, you read that right.
I know it’s still early, but their play has been very impressive for a team that had absolutely no expectations placed on them going into this year. In fact, hockey fans and pundits alike figured that the Rangers would be a non-factor all season long.
Well, a month and a half into the season, the Blueshirts have been anything, but a non-factor. Let’s first take a quick look at what they have done recently.
Since October 30, the team is 9-1-1. The club has also won seven straight games on home ice, which is going to be something that they will need to try and continue if they believe that they can make the playoffs.
Something else that has been equally impressive is the play of 19-year-old Filip Chytil. Chytil currently has a five-game goal streak and is the first Rangers’ rookie to have this kind of streak since good old Petr Prucha scored in six straight games back during the 2005-06 season.
After struggling out of the gate and looking like he needed to be sent down to Hartford to play in the American Hockey League, Chytil has looked like a beast on the ice. He’s hustling, forechecking, backchecking, shooting the puck, and doing all the little things to make a positive impact for his hockey club.
Chris Kreider is someone who has also been finding the back of the net this season. As of this writing, Kreider, 27, leads the team with 12 goals and is starting to show the organization and the rest of the NHL that he can be a consistent player.
The rest of the team’s offense is also starting to come together. Players like Mika Zibanejad (19 points), Kevin Hayes (13 points), Brett Howden (12 points), Jimmy Vesey (11 points), and Mats Zuccarello (10 Points), who is still out with an injury, have all stepped up their games and have done a lot to contribute offensively.
As I have mentioned several times already this season, future Hall of Fame goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has easily been the team’s best player this year. The “King” is currently 8-6-2 with a 2.66 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
Not only is Henrik playing well, but now the team’s backup, Alexandar Georgiev, is now playing well. While his numbers may not show it, Georgiev, 22, has given his team a chance to win in most of the games he played and was especially good against the Islanders on November 21 when he stopped all 29 shots he faced for his first career NHL shutout.
Lastly, I believe that new head coach David Quinn deserves a ton of credit. He has already gotten his team to buy into his system, has shown the players that if they do their jobs, they will get plenty of ice time, and has put the team’s youngsters in key situations.
Something else that Quinn has done is preach to his players that hard work matters and can lead to positive results. That has certainly been the case so far this season as the Blueshirts have been in just about every game they have played this season.
Obviously, a lot can change in this league when it comes to the standings. Heck, the team’s next two games are against divisional opponents in the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. The Caps are currently one point behind the Blueshirts while the Flyers are six points behind.
For right now, at least, the Rangers and their fans should be more than impressed with what they have accomplished so far. If this keeps up, who knows what the future holds come April.