Monday, March 28, 2011
Wednesday night the New York Rangers will be in Buffalo to take on the Sabres, in what really turns out to be the biggest game for both teams this year. The Rangers are currently tied with the Montreal Canadiens at 87 points. Buffalo has 85 points, followed by Carolina who has 80 points. Both of those teams have have one game in hand on the Rangers and Canadiens.
The question most Ranger diehards have is how did the Rangers get to this point? With a 8-1-1 run in their last ten games (Timing was perfect for this run) and 41-30-5 overall record it’s the one thing that may have gone unnoticed and that my friends is the overall team defense that the Rangers have played this year. Starting, obviously, in the nets with the “King” Henrik Lundqvist- who has quietly maneuvered himself up the ladder in the numbers department of the top goalies in the league. The King leads the league with 11 shutouts and with a goals against of 2.24 that’s good for 5th best in the NHL. Lundqvist should get some serious attention when it comes to the Vezina Trophy voting.
The other part of the overall defense of the Rangers are the defensemen themselves. Mark Staal, Dan Giradi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer, Steve Eminger, Brian McCabe, and Matt Gilroy have contributed greatly in the Rangers fortunes. These names on the D may not frighten many opponents when it comes down to the nasty, physical department (Someday?) but they have done the job blocking shots and playing smart hockey. I mean, really, check these numbers: the Rangers have scored 218 goals, 181 goals against (2nd in the East and 3rd overall in the NHL) with a goal differential of +37. The +37 ranks in the top 4 in the entire NHL! That folks is absolutely incredible! The numbers don’t lie in a league where scoring is almost extinct. You have to rely on solid team defense and the Rangers are getting that from goaltender on out. Impressive? I’d say so.
Okay now for some of Kotsy’s thoughts on a few topics that need to addressed… First off how about the comments coming out Detroit from Kris Draper and Nicklas Lidstrom concerning the cheap shots and hits the NHL has a problem with today. Both player’s have hinted that maybe the NHL should get rid of the instigator rule… Really? I’m all for that, but I also hold Redwings mostly responsible for why the game is what it is today. So to hear this from them, I’m not really sure it passes the laugh test.
“The Hammer”, Dave Schultz has surfaced and came out with some strong opinions about the state of the game when it comes to the respect- or lack there of. It’s a good read check it out at the link below.
Finally, I wonder if most hockey fans realize that the NHL might possibly be without a 50 goal scorer this season. Corey Perry currently leads with 44 goals and Steven Stamkos has been stuck on 43 for a while now. I thought the NHL improved it’s game with all the rules changes over the last few years to open up the game? At least, that’s what we were told… wasn’t it? Over and out!