45 games into his second stint in New York, Michael-René Grabner has shown the New York Rangers that he came here to play his heart out.Grabs, as he is referred as, has registered a team-leading 21 goals to go along with eight assists and a +23 rating as a Blueshirt.
With those numbers, the 29-year-old Austrian-born veteran has endeared himself to New York Rangers fans, who couldn’t be more supportive.
Past Rangers teams have had their fair share of struggles finding the back of the net. In the not-too-distant past, it was not uncommon to see Rangers squads on either side of a 2-1 or a 3-2 nail biter, but not this year.
Grabner’s name tops that list. The collective impact has put the Rangers at 2nd overall in both goals for per game average (GF/G) with 3.5 and 161 total goals.
Grabner’s team-leading production is obviously a big driver behind those team stats, as his impact has not only made his individual score sheet flashy, but helped out his linemates as well.
Thus far, the line of Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller and Michael Grabner has generated 49 goals, 48 assists, and a +/- rating of +54.
Whether the fat contracts that Hayes and Miller signed this last summer are a factor in their play or not, the trio has been playing this season as if their lives depended on it.
In the past few weeks, the Rangers have struggled to close out some much-needed wins and the defensive side of their game is much to blame.
Even with Henrik Lundqvist giving up 18 goals in the past four games, the best line for the Rangers continues to do their part with five goals and four assists over that span.Yes, the Rangers still need to win games or these stats are pointless — give them time.
I’m not saying that Grabner solves every problem this team has. He doesn’t.
However, his knowledge, experience and skill set will definitely help the Rangers as they approach the final stretch.
He is on track to match or exceed scoring totals from his best NHL season (2010-11) while playing for the over-the-bridge rival the New York Islanders.
Head coach Alain Vigneault can point to the well-traveled Grabner’s play this season to inspire and motivate the young talent on this team to play with a chip on their shoulder.
The point is: Grabner has been the most impactful Ranger this season and should be nominated for the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award (R.I.P.).
Time and results are going to determine how this season will look in retrospect for Grabner, his teammates and the fans.
So far, he’s used the time he’s had to pull out some huge results.