Now an incredible five points up with three games in hand on the Islanders, the New York Rangers are absolutely showing championship signs.
By Robby Sabo
After a wild run through the Eastern Conference last spring, a lot of New York Rangers fans thought 2014-15 could be a slight struggle. Not a struggle of epic proportions, but considering some of the key losses in the offseason, the heady fan knew a couple youngsters were needed to step up for big time success.
I was one of these guys who thought the youngster angle was desperately needed – and boy did a few come through with flying colors.
For a rookie, third line center Kevin Hayes has displayed flashes of stud brilliance. The way he can posses the puck in the offensive zone while facilitating to Carl Hagelin on his left and J.T. Miller on his right has been on of the greatest gifts to the Blueshirts this year.
Glen Sather stole this talent during the summer as he’s tallied 13 goals and 19 assists thus far on the season. Let’s not forget his couple of end to end highlight reel goals.
Oh yeah, and this one too during the biggest of games:
Again, the team started off a bit slow in October losing three of their four games and starting 6-6-2. Again though, like last season, Alain Vigneualt has slowly but surely molded the squad into a championship caliber group.
Even more so this year.
Unlike 2013-14 which saw the Blueshirts pickup the number two seed in the Metropolitan, as we stand today the Rangers are currently tied with the Anaheim Ducks with 95 points in the league (with three games in hand).
While the recent stretch may be a little surprising after the Islanders seemingly had a stranglehold on the division for most of the year, the way they’ve gone about their business without goalie Henrik Lundqvist is absolutely shocking.
Cam Talbot has been that other big time youngster who’s stepped up to an incredible level. Since Talbot has assumed responsibility of the number one netminder spot, his record is a sparkling 12-2-3 with a 9.23 save percentage.
While shaky his first few starts, Talbot has each and every general manager in the league incredibly ticked off at Sather for extending his contract earlier this year through 2015-16.
He is, without a doubt, a bonafide stud goalie.
Aside from this situation possibly creating a concern for Lundqvist when he struggles to adapt to hockey life again, there’s no denying how stout they are at the position.
With a dominant rebirth from Rick Nash; flashes of stardem from power forward Chris Kreider; arguably the best defensive core in the league; and perhaps the most balanced four lines hockey has seen in a while; the 2014-15 New York Rangers are incredibly dangerous.
This is the NHL though, and any of the 16 playoff teams can become incredibly dangerous at a moments notice.
For now though, Rangers fans need to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride until Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs makes its presence felt.
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