by Patrick Hoffman on 04/07/13 at 08:05 PM ET
With spring now in the air, it is certainly starting to look like playoff hockey around the NHL.
This is especially the case for the New York Rangers. This past week, the Blueshirts were extremely impressive in picking up seven out of a possible eight points in wins over the Winnipeg Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins (had a shootout loss to them as well) and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Watching the Rangers' this week, some familiarity was definitely present. In fact, in watching how the Rangers' played this week and looking at the performances they got out of certain players, one could even say that it felt like last season.
This past week helped catapult the Blueshirts into the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. The team is just two points behind the sixth-seeded Ottawa Senators and is also four points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There are several reasons why the Rangers have had success of late. For starters, Blueshirts' netminder Henrik Lundqvist has been absolutely fantastic. The "King" is 6-2-2 in his last 10 games, has not allowed more than two goals in those 10 games and has posted great numbers with a 1.57 GAA and a .947 save percentage in those games.
Secondly, the team is starting to get balanced scoring again. It is not just Rick Nash who is carrying the load but now guys like Derek Stepan (he has been doing it all season), Ryan Callahan, Ryan Clowe, Derick Brassard and even Brian Boyle are pulling their own weight, which makes a huge difference.
Lastly, the team's power play is on fire. The team is five for their last nine and is having success by not being afraid to put the puck on net, crash the crease for rebounds and be in the right position to score goals.
The Rangers will have to take all of these things in use them in three big games against the Toronto Maple Leafs (two) and the New York Islanders. As of this writing, both the Leafs (fifth) and Islanders (eighth) are in the top eight in the East and are fighting to stay that way for the rest of the regular season.
The Blueshirts won their only matchup against the Leafs this season by a score of 5-2 at Madison Square Garden back on January 26. Since then, however, much has changed for both clubs so one has to expect a much different two games on Monday in Toronto and on Wednesday at the Garden.
For the most part, the Islanders have played the Rangers well this season. The Rangers won two games, one in regulation and one in overtime and lost in a shoootut to the Islanders this season.
With a lot on the line the next few weeks, expect the Rangers to come out and give everything they got this week to help solidify their position on the East and as Cup contenders for the postseason.
Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
Tags: brian+boyle, carolina+hurricanes, derek+stepan, derick+brassard, henrik+lundqvist, henrik+lunqdqvist, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, pittsburgh+penguins, rick+nash, ryan+callahan, ryan+clowe, toronto+maple+leafs, winnipeg+jets
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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 email@example.com.