If you’re a New York Rangers fan, their play makes you want to do one of two things: grab another drink or pull your hair out (assuming you have any left). One game they are dominant, and the next they play like the worst team in hockey.
However, something has happened lately that has gone unnoticed by many Ranger fans concentrating on managing their emotions: Their bipolar team is coming together as a unit.
The Rangers are 5-1-1 in their last seven games, including impressive wins against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks. Friday night’s game against the Dallas Stars appeared to be heading toward yet another letdown. However, the Rangers overcame two one-goal deficits and a mind-numbingly slow place to grind out a 3-2 win, courtesy of a late goal from Rick Nash.
Earlier this season, this would be the type of game the Rangers would lose. Either the moment would be too much for them or they simply didn’t bring the game necessary to win that night, but now they don’t seem to shy away from these moments. They are winning physical and mental battles late in games and battle even harder when behind by more than one goal.
The key to this resurgence has been the Rangers’ special teams. Their penalty kill has consistently ranked among the best in the NHL in recent years, and this year is no exception as they rank seventh in the league at 84.7 percent.
But who remembers the last time their power play ranked in the top-ten? This season, thanks to a brilliant coaching job by assistant coach Scott Arniel, the Ranger power play ranks sixth – yes, sixth – in the NHL.
This is not the only reason the Rangers have come together, of course; the brilliant play of Mats Zuccarello and the improved play of Henrik Lundqvist help, too.
The Rangers’ more cohesive play is coming at the right time, however. With the Olympic Break less than a month away and a critical homestand getting underway last night, the Rangers are now getting traction in the playoff race. They are starting to come together as one as a result of these migraine-inducing games, and it has made them a better team, too.
Let’s see if this continues the rest of the season and beyond.