Forget the six-game winning streak, these past four games been the New York Rangers’ best stretch this year.
Toss out the numbers. It’s time to look at the facts regarding the New York Rangers most recent run.
This might be the best hockey the Rangers have played all season, including their six-game winning streak back in October. With the team now on a small four-game winning streak, we are seeing major differences in the way they have been approaching their opponents on the ice.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the Rangers’ game has been their incredible defensive effort. During the six-game winning streak, they allowed 16 goals, having to overexert on offense in order to outscore their opponent and get the victory. The winning streak ended in a poor defensive performance, where they allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to score six goals.
The team realized that they aren’t going to outscore the opposition every game and that it was time to focus on the defensive side of the game. The team played much better defensively in a 2-0 loss to Columbus, but it was the start of what was to come.
In the game immediately following that 2-0 loss, the Rangers came out on top with a 3-0 win over the Ottawa Senators. That would start this current four-game winning streak where they have allowed just five goals. The first area that seems to be fixed is their play five-on-five.
During this stretch, the team has only allowed three goals when playing at even strength. This season the Rangers have given up 46 goals at even strength, which is good for the ninth most in the NHL. Fixing this was an absolute must for this team considering that their penalty kill is still not where it needs to be at 81.3 percent.
But the most impressive part of this is that they are doing it without their top defenseman, Ryan McDonagh. Even though McDonagh has not had the best of seasons so far, he’s still a major part of what the Rangers plan to do down the road. The ability to put together defensive stretches like this without your top defenseman really shows how good you are, and so far the Rangers are looking great.
A major factor in the decrease of goals against at even strength has been the play of Henrik Lundqvist. Over these last five games, Lundqvist has a .958 save percentage, allowing just 1.40 goals in that span. This is the best that Lundqvist has looked this season and possibly the best he’s looked over the last two years.
Even with the Rangers playing well in front of Lundqvist, the Rangers have been giving up way too many shots to the opposition. In the last two games, Lundqvist had to face 73 shots combined. This is a number that needs to come down, but the fact that Lundqvist has stopped 69 of those shots is promising.
One thing that the Rangers have continued to do that they did on their six-game winning is finding the back of the net at even strength. Out of the 14 goals that they have scored during their current winning streak, 13 of them have come five-on-five. Earlier this season, it was a major concern whether or not the team could score five-on-five if they needed to.
A perfect example of that is in their 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Sunday afternoon. Earlier in the season, this team would not come back to beat Vancouver because they simply could not score at even strength. All three of the Rangers goals yesterday came at even strength and they have only scored one power play goal in the last five games.
Even with all of the current success, the Rangers are not perfect and there are some things that need to be worked on. The power play has been a major part of the Rangers game this season, but it has gone missing lately. If they can get back to scoring with the man advantage, they will become an even bigger threat throughout the league.
Things are going well for the Rangers. Their previous six-game winning streak saved their season, but the current four-game winning streak has them playing their best hockey.