The New York Rangers have had an up and down season so far, but fans have plenty to celebrate with Thanksgiving day on the horizon.
New York Rangers fans have plenty to be thankful for as the quarter mark of the schedule has arrived. Hockey, the NHL and this team always represent more than wins and losses, or failures and success.
With Thanksgiving day on the horizon and the official start to the holiday season beginning, now seemed the best time to look at what fans should be thankful for as we get ready to eat some turkey and prep for the winter holiday season.
There have been plenty of players who fans are thankful to see in a Rangers sweater. So grab a turkey leg, some stuffing and your favorite adult beverage as we take a look at some of the great things that have happened in Rangerstown this season.
Fans are thankful for Artemi Panarin
Artemi Panarin has been on a tear since the season began. The Russian scoring machine has recorded 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points in just 21 games.
He has done just about everything a fan can ask. He has scored huge goals, plays both ends of the ice with precision and skill and never takes a shift off.
His energy is contagious as he as the capability to make other players around him play so much better. A dynamic player that gets fans excited every time he steps on the ice.
Panarin has posted a multi-point game in seven of the last nine games (six goals and nine assists).
Fans are thankful for Brendan Lemieux
When the Rangers acquired Brendan Lemieux from the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline last season, fans hoped he would live up to his reputation.
He is the Rangers’ hardest-working, heavy-hitting, shot-blocking player. Every team hates to play against a player like Lemieux and every Rangers fan loves to see him instigate the opposition with his antagonizing style of hockey.
Blueshirt fans simply love this guy. His name is familiar because his father Claude played across the Hudson river several seasons ago. Brendan plays with the same passion and heart that his dad did and is a better goal scorer.
In a span of three games last week, Lemieux had a big fight with Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson, resulting in a huge shiner under his left eye. He lost a tooth or two in the game against the Ottawa Senators (Brady Skjei helped pick them up off the ice) and he scored two goals in the improbable 6-5 comeback win in Montreal Saturday night.
If a fan wasn’t thankful for having Lemieux on this team already, they surely are excited to see him play now.
Fans are thankful for Adam Fox
The kid out of Harvard University is the real deal. Adam Fox has developed into a reliable defenseman. His greatest asset is his passing and knowledge on the ice. The 21-year-old may only have 22 NHL games under his belt, but you would never guess that when you see him play.
Watching him play makes most think he has been around for two or three years. He displays confidence in his end, is rarely out of position and makes that first pass out of the Rangers end decisively.
In the special team’s department, Fox has been in the first power-play unit with Panarin has his partner. The kid has ice in his veins showing no nerves with the ability to move the puck fast around the ice always finding his target.
Fans are thankful for Kaapo Kakko
Many forget Kaapo Kakko he is just 18-years- old. The second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft has become the undisputed fan favorite in Rangerstown.
Kakko started the year a little slow in the point production department, but that didn’t stop him from proving to the team he belongs in the NHL. His size and strength surprise many of the plays he battles with.
He shows no fears digging the puck out of the corners and driving hard to the net. Throughout the early part of the season, Kakko has had the opportunity to play with the top power-play unit, and that’s where the fun starts.
Kakko has said he wants to be the guy on the ice to score the big goals. He wants the coach to call his name in the deciding moments of a game. He will only get better as the year continues.
Once Mika Zibanejad returns he will get time in the team’s top line and that’s where the fun and hopefully more winning will begin to take place.
Fans are thankful for Filip Chytil
Filip Chytil was put into a disheartening situation in September. After playing in 65 NHL games last season, the coaching staff was not happy with what they saw in him and assigned him to the AHL.
That’s exactly what he needed to find his game. Sometimes all it takes is a swift kick in the ass to wake up a young player.
Chytil was recalled in late October and made his season debut against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He scored his first goal of the year in the team’s win while doing all of the things the coaching staff was looking for.
He was inserted into the lineup as the second-line center, the spot he lost in training camp and hasn’t looked back. Playing primarily with Chris Kreider on his right side, Chytil has proven that being sent to the AHL can be a positive.
His enthusiasm since his call up is noticeable every game. Chytil has become a better player on face-offs, has improved his game in the defensive zone and displays more confidence when he is out there with his linemates.
Don’t forget the side dishes
What would Thanksgiving Day dinner be without the famous side dishes? You know, the biscuits, vegetables and world-class stuffing.
Here add some notable mentions that all fans should be thankful to be wearing the Rangers sweater:
Jesper Fast: You may not hear his name a lot, but he gets his job done every night. Quickie is the heart and sound of the team.
Ryan Strome: He has continued to hit the scoreboard on most nights. The center is one of the main reasons the team has won without Zibanejad in the lineup.
Mika Zibanejad: After a fast start, Mika has been sidelined with an upper-body injury the past month. He is expected back in the lineup soon and once he gets back into game shape expect the team to put some winning streaks together.
Henrik Lundqvist: He is nearing the end of a great career but still has some gas in the tank. During Monday night’s 3-2 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild, the King became the fifth winningest goalie in NHL history with his 455th win, surpassing Curtis Joseph.
He may have begun his role as a mentor with back up goalie Alexandar Georgiev, but he still has a lot to offer the team as a player. Fans should be thankful not just what he has done this season, but what he has done over the 14 and a half.
That’s what I am thankful for, having the ability to engage with fans on many topics and players is a pleasure. There is no right or wrong, only fun conversations and strong opinions with Rangers fans.
Let me take this time to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your day with your family.
The Blueshirts are back on the ice for a Thanksgiving Day showdown Friday afternoon against the Boston Bruins.