McDonald: Rangers Winning Even On Off Nights

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

Now that you have finished licking your Met wounds – and yes Terry Collins should have pulled Matt Harvey after walking Lorenzo Cain – there’s 100 days to fill before pitchers and since you were your month of October’s itinerary was filled by a team from Queens, let’s get you caught up with the rest of the New York sports world.

The Jets seems to have won a few games and lost a few quarterbacks, while the Giants have this nasty habit of handing games away in the final seconds. The Knicks and Nets just started and are pretty much finished. The Devils are surprising, however, while the Islanders are putting a great product on the ice, but fans in the stands are having a hard time seeing it.

That leaves the Rangers, a team notorious for slow starts, are actually playing the best of them all. At 8-2-2, they lead a very competitive Metropolitan Division and their 5-2 win over the Capitals tonight wasn’t dominating but surprisingly opportunistic.

“We are not jumping in the air right now,” said center Derick Brassard. “We are pretty aware we beat a pretty good hockey team, but at the same time we know we didn’t play our best hockey.”

Ok, it’s an 82 game season, so you will have down nights. But these are the quality wins that are important when the playoffs come. If you can scrounge out these type of games when are not playing at your best, it makes for a better positioning in the playoffs.

And one team they will probably meet down the road will be Washington. So the Rangers should be very happy with this win.

That being said, there’s always room for improvement. The Rangers need to get more traffic in the Washington zone. Braden Holtby – remember him – only stopped 16 shots on the night. He didn’t have a lot of traffic in front of him and when he did, generally the Rangers lit the lamp.

But give credit to the Rangers. They saw an elite goalie have an off night and took advantage of it. On the other hand, their own guy, Henrik Lundqvist was his usual sharp self with 32 saves on the night.

“Well, he works hard all the time,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “He’s certainly a big reason why we have been winning a lot of games.”

Absolutely. The Rangers now have 18 points through 12 games. The eight wins and 18 points are tied for the fourth most points and wins in franchise history through the first 12 games.

So the Blueshirts are doing well.

Moreover, unlike past Ranger teams, this one truly rolls four lines with goals from the second, third, and fourth lines tonight.

This type of scoring and sharp defense will help the Rangers down the stretch. Vigneault will have more liberties when it comes to resting certain players, like Lundqvist, if he has a safe and comfortable lead going into March.

So things are swell on 33rd Street right now. The best news is that they are not kicking on all cylinders. They are getting a slow start from Chris Kreider, while Rick Nash is looking like his playoff form self.

Things can and probably will improve. Barring injuries, the Rangers look strong right now. They are playing well, even on off nights like tonight.

They now go out west for two games, so it will be interesting to see what they do in Colorado and Arizona before coming back to Madison Square Garden in a week.

It’s something you should keep your eyes on now that the World Series has ended.

It beats watching our football and basketball teams. That’s for sure.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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