New York Rangers status as 'strange' team remains after Chris Kreider hat trick (Highlights)
Dec 31, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates his goal with center Derek Stepan (21) and right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kreider snags a hat trick in helping the New York Rangers cruise to a 6-2 blowout against the Avalanche in Colorado.

  • New York Rangers 6 (26-12-1, 53 pts)
  • Colorado Avalanche 2 (12-23-1, 25 pts)
  • NHL, Final, Box Score
  • Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
Another road game for the New York Rangers. Another impressive victory.

Following up the 6-3 victory in the desert against the Arizona Coyotes two night ago, the Blueshirts spanked the Colorado Avalanche on New Year’s Eve, 6-2.

Amazingly enough, New York witnessed another hat trick from one of their forwards. Rather than seeing Matt Puempel accomplish the feat two games in a row, however, it was horse Chris Kreider who banged in three goals that now has his season’s total at 15.

What a strange team

Nobody knows which Rangers squad will show up on a nightly basis. Whether it’s the club who was roughed up by the Pittsburgh Penguins and Minnesota Wild a week ago (as each team tallied seven goals), or the club who looked fantastic in beating both the Coyotes and Avalanche on the road, anybody’s best guess will be a poor one on which Rangers team will show up.

Will Henrik Lundqvist stop pucks like the one of old, or will he continue his downward spiral? Will the defensive structure actually hold firm while the offense does its thing, or will it collapse in classic Alain Vigneault fashion?

What we do know, though, is that this team is good. With 26 wins and 53 points, while they may be strange and completely inconsistent, they remain a team to be reckoned with the rest of the NHL season.

A truer identity an injection of toughness may just be the medicine.

Chris Kreider’s hat trick

If AV’s squad wants to travel to the promised land this spring, Kreider must be his consistent self — the consistent Kreider we’ve come to know only this season. It seems as though Kreider traded his past inconsistencies to the Rangers, as a whole, this season.

He scored three goals against the Avs on Saturday night, all of which came in the first two periods and two of the power play variety.

He, along with the rest of the Rangers high-flying transitional offense was splendid against a very poor Colorado bunch.

Henrik Lundqvist now the European King

While we may know him as The King, he’s now the European King as it pertains to European NHL goaltenders. With this victory, his 390th career marker, he’s now passed the great Dominik Hasek for the most wins in NHL history by any European goalie.

He was solid on the night. The Avs could only muster 27 shots and very few scoring chances, but Hank returned from his bout with the flu in very solid fashion.

Metro outlook

The victory allows New York to maintain pace with both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus, who’s played three fewer games than New York, is three points ahead while the Pens remain two ahead (one fewer game).

Admittedly, any team will hurt when three of their best players are out (Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich), but these New York Rangers will need to shake this “strange” team moniker if they have true designs on a Cup run this season.

Consistency will be key.

After two days off, next on the slate will be the Buffalo Sabres as the Blueshirts head home for Madison Square Garden.

NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU