This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the New York Rangers.
This was supposed to be a season in which the new coach, David Quinn, would get a feel for his hockey club, see which youngsters could handle the NHL level, and learn to play a new system.
While they are still doing all of these things, it appears that the team does not believe in tanking. Yes, the club understands that they are in rebuilding mode, but to them, that does not mean that they cannot go out and win a bunch of hockey games.
With the team’s 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on November 12, the team is now in second place in the Metropolitan Division (as of November 13) and is just two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for first place in the division.
After getting off to a start the team’s fans expected them to, they are 6-0-1 in their last seven games. Because of this streak, the team is now 9-7-2 and is showing both their fans and the rest of the league that they are not going to tank this season just to get a high draft pick.
One reason why they are not doing this is because of their new head coach. Quinn is clearly someone that will not accept his team doing that and he expects them to compete every night.
This is a coach who clearly believes in his players, trusts them in big spots, is not afraid to hold them accountable. He believes that his club can make the playoffs and as such, does not believe in blowing a season just to get a top draft pick.
Someone else that does not believe in tanking is future Hall of Fame goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist has been the team’s best player in the early going and is showing that despite the fact that he is aging, he believes he can still be a top flight goaltender in the NHL.
As of this writing, the “King” is 6-6-2 with a 2.54 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Considering the number of high-quality scoring chances on a nightly basis, that save percentage is quite impressive.
Lundqvist is a guy that will not lay down and die in any season. He will compete every night and is so focused on winning that anything that stands in his way will get knocked down.
Lastly, this team is competitive every single night. They have not really gotten blown out this year, they have played in a ton of close games and on most nights, they play till the final whistle whether they are winning or losing.
This is a team that works hard, does not quit on shifts, and tries to do the right things on the ice every night. They believe in what Quinn is preaching and are doing everything they can to play well and earn their ice time.
There is obviously still a lot of time for the wheels to fall off for this team, but I would not bet on it. They are going to do everything they can to stay in the thick of things and show the rest of the league that when you play them, you better bring your “A” game.
Photo: Times-Union/Associated Press