by Patrick Hoffman on 04/25/13 at 07:00 AM ET
When it comes to New York Rangers' fans and the way they view their favorite hockey club, it is always an extreme point of view.
Either fans are in love and ecstatic about their hockey club or they absolutely despise and are fed up with their so called favorite NHL team. There is never a middle ground.
With two games remaining and just one win needed to clinch a postseason spot in the ever tight bottom portion of the Eastern Conference standings, it is time for a glass half full look. Believe it or not, there are things to like about this Blueshirts' hockey club.
For starters, the team has perhaps the best goaltender in the NHL in Henrik Lundqvist. For the last month or so, Lundqvist has been the team's best player and his statistics reflect that.
In 41 games this season, Lundqvist is 22-16-3 with a 2.08 GAA (seventh in the league), a .926 save percentage (fifth in the league) and one shutout. He is always the main reason why when the Rangers' win and night in and night out, he gives his team a chance to win a hockey game.
Secondly, this team does have some offense. While the Blueshirts may not show it consistently, this club has guys that can find the back of the net and do so with some kind of regularity.
A good example of this is Rick Nash. In his first season as a Blueshirt, Nash has not disappointed with 19 goals and 21 assists for 40 points in 42 games.
Most nights, Nash does everything he can to create offense. Nash uses his size and speed to drive to the net while also not being afraid to put the puck on net as he has taken 167 shots (fifth in the league) this season.
Another good example of someone who has show some offensive consistency this season is 22-year-old Derek Stepan. Stepan is tied for the team lead with 40 points (16 goals and 24 assists) and has shown the Rangers' organization and their fans that he has the ability to be a big-time offensive player for this franchise.
Believe it or not, nine-year man Brad Richards is starting to come around. He is starting to play with some confidence, has begun to put the puck in the net and his smart on-ice vision has returned as he now has 31 points (10 goals and 21 assists).
Of course, one cannot forget about Ryan Callahan. Callahan has 27 points (14 goals and 13 assists) and simply plays the game the right way by hustling, forechecking, backchecking, sacrificing his body and playing in all situations. Not only is he the captain of the team, but he is the heart and soul of the Blueshirts.
Lastly, the Rangers are still one of the best defensive teams in the league. The club is fifth in the league in goals allowed and should they make the playoffs, that kind of defense could end up being a huge factor.
There is a lot to like about this Rangers' team and should they win one of their last two games against either the Carolina Hurricanes or New Jersey Devils, they will end up being a very dangerous team to play come playoff time.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.