The New York Rangers have been winning of late but, let’s not forget how fast it can all crumble down in the NHL.
The New York Rangers have shocked the hockey world the last two weeks.
Entering play Thursday night, the Blueshirts will put their seven-game points streak (6-0-1) on the line when they face-off against the rival New York Islanders. A streak that has rejuvenated fans at the Garden into creating a playoff-type atmosphere in the world’s most famous arena. A streak where this team has come together and have found ways to win.
They’ve moved from the bottom of the Metropolitan Division all the way to second, just two points out of playoff spot Tuesday night.
Throughout this streak, we have just been waiting for the Blueshirts to come back down to earth. Waiting for their inability to hold leads late at the end of games to cost them. For their 21st-ranked penalty kill to allow a power-play goal that they would not be able to avenge.
Waiting for Henrik Lundqvist’s age to catch up to him and his .923 save percentage to fall back to .913 like he’s averaged over the last two seasons.
So far none of those worries have appeared during this streak. The team finally closed out a game in the final seconds, while their penalty kill has ranked in the top-10 over the last seven games. Lundqvist’s save percentage has risen to .933 in the five games he’s played during this streak. Everything seems good.
But, for a second, take a look at back at the numbers a year ago. The Blueshirts’ record a year ago to the date was 9-7-2, sound familiar? Well, that’s because this Rangers team record is currently at 9-7-2, deja vu huh?
You should know the rest of the story 2017-18 brought us, the Blueshirts went on to struggle in the second half of the season and the Rangers went on to become sellers at the trade deadline.
Now enter 2018-19. Yes, this Rangers team is completely different than last years team in many ways. This team is built around younger players instead of a veteran core. The expectation is that the Blueshirts will be sellers no matter what happens this year, unlike last year when the plan was to be Cup contender.
If, and when, this team does decide to become sellers there will be more young players heading into the Blueshirts’ lineup. The teams around them will be doing what they can to get better, while the Rangers continue to plan for the future. That will definitely have an impact on this team and how they perform.
What is also important to remember the firepower the Metropolitan Division has. How the Penguins and Capitals have yet to hit their stride. the pure talent that teams like the Devils and Hurricanes have.
Those four teams when it is all said and done are probably the ones who will see playoff hockey, and the Rangers have only played them three times so far this year.
Sooner or later this points streak will end and the Rangers will fall back down to earth. The younger players will hit that rookie wall as the league makes adjustments on them.
It will all be a part of the learning curve that younger players have to go through, a part that will be so much more important for this young core than lengthy points steak can be.
Winning is great for young players development, but, just keep in the back of your head how quickly it can all stop.