As always, “Boomer” did a terrific job of mentioning that this should not come as a surprise to anyone. Both team general manager Glen Sather and team head coach John Tortorella had a vision for this team and for once, it was the same.
The Rangers’ identity is one that is hard-working, competitive every night, has a never say die attitude and promotes team depth. Put all of these characteristics together and you have where the Rangers are today.
As of this writing (December 27, 2011), the Blueshirts are first in both the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division with a 22-8-4 record. The team is one point ahead of the second place Boston Bruins (As of this writing…December 27, 2011) and two points ahead of the fourth place Philadelphia Flyers (As of this writing…December 27, 2011).
There are several reasons why the team is having success this season. For starters, Marian Gaborik has his mojo back. The team’s sniper is first in the NHL (As of this writing…December 27, 2011) in goals scored with 21 and is first on the Blueshirts with 33 points.
Secondly, others have helped Gaborik in the point-producing department. Guys like nine-year man Brad Richards (12-14-26), Ryan Callahan (13-13-26), Derek Stepan (8-17-25), and Artem Anisimov (7-15-22) have all produced on a consistent basis for the Blueshirts this season.
Even without all-star defenseman Marc Staal, the team has had a steady blue line all season long. Defenseman Dan Girardi (3-10-13) continues to be one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL while 21-year-old Michael Del Zotto (4-17-21) has reemerged as one of the club’s top defensemen after he struggled last season.
Lastly, the team’s goaltending has been stellar all season long. Starting netminder Henrik Lundqvist is 15-7-4 with a 1.95 goals against average, a .936 save percentage and 3 shutouts, once again ranking him among the goaltending leaders this season.
The team’s back-up netminder, Martin Biron, has also put together a terrific season this year. In 9 games, Biron is 7-1 with a 1.84 goals against average, a .933 save percentage, 1 shutout and 2 assists.
Look out folks. This Rangers’ hockey club is for real and looks like they could be Stanley Cup contenders come April.