As the holiday season approaches, PHR will look at what teams are thankful for as the season nears the quarter point of completion. There also might be a few things your team would like down the road. We take a look at what’s gone well in the first month and what could improve as the season rolls on. So far we’ve covered the following teams: ANA, ARZ, BOS, BUF, CGY, CAR, CBJ, COL, DET, FLA, LAK, NSH, NJD, NYI, STL, TOR, and VAN.
What are the Rangers most thankful for?
That it’s a long season.
What could have been a disastrous start to the season after the team began the year with a 3-7-2 record and there was talk of the team firing coach Alain Vigneault. However, that talk died away after the team won six in a row and has gone 12-4 since that point as they now sport a 15-11-2 record. With the fortune of playing in a busy Metropolitan Division, the team is regaining ground in hopes of reaching the playoffs again this year. Granted, they aren’t there yet, but the Rangers have seen some success and are trending in the right direction.
Who are the Rangers most thankful for?
Not that Derek Stepan was that great of a center to begin with, but there were many questions after the team traded away their number one center to Arizona whether anyone could fill that void. Yet Zibanejad has done just that. He is tied for the team in points with 22 and is the team’s second-leading scorer. The 24-year-old, despite a recent concussion injury, has taken control of the team’s top power play unit and penalty killing units and has been a key piece to the Rangers future. After putting up just 37 points in 56 games last year, Zibanejad should easily be able to surpass that this year.
What would the Rangers be even more thankful for?
That goaltender Henrik Lundqvist finds the fountain of youth. At age 35, the veteran netminder’s best days are likely behind him, but the team still needs the veteran to hold up for a few years more, most especially this year. Through 24 games, Lundqvist has a 2.77 GAA and a .916 save percentage, but much of that was his early season struggles as he carried a 3.21 GAA and a .898 save percentage in the month of October. His November was much stronger, however, with a much more respectable 2.34 GAA and a .927 save percentage. If he can maintain numbers like that, then the Rangers have a good chance of climbing up higher in the standings and earning a playoff spot.
What should be on the Rangers’ Holiday Wish List?
The continued development of their youth. A lot of hope for a solid youth movement came and went at the start of the season when it looked like 2017 first-rounders Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil would make the Rangers roster out of training camp. Instead, Andersson was deemed not ready and sent back to Sweden, while Chytil made the team, but struggled and was reassigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. The team had high hopes for Andersson especially as the Rangers traded Stepan for his rights and young defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, who also struggled in New York, and now plays in Hartford as well. So far, trading away Stepan hasn’t shown much, even if it might in the future.