Start getting excited, New York Rangers fans.
Your team has already played excellent hockey in the month of January, but Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators seemed like a big exclamation point to a stretch in which the Rangers have won six of their last eight games.
Everything they have done well this month and during the course of the season came to the forefront in this game. They were physical. Their defensive coverage was great. They got great goaltending from Cam Talbot. And most importantly, they got timely goal scoring.
What’s more, they did not let a myriad of missed opportunities get them down, and they were able to survive a lull in their play in the third period in which the Senators out-shot the Rangers by a two-to-one ratio up until Mats Zuccarello‘s breakaway goal late in the period pretty much ended the game.
Here’s an outline of which improvements came to the forefront today. Brad Richards had one of his best games of the season, and probably should have had a hat-trick. Zuccarello was once again the best player on the ice. Rick Nash played another assertive game and added yet another spectacular goal. The power play was dangerous once again, which will bode very well for the playoffs should the Rangers make it.
And we all know how much Henrik Lundqvist has improved, but his backup added yet another victory to a brilliant rookie season. Talbot’s play is one of the major reasons the Rangers have kept afloat in the playoff race, and now the rest of his teammates have followed suit.
This win against Ottawa epitomized almost every single improvement in the Rangers’ game. And if you have any reason to get more excited, they still haven’t peaked yet. But right now, Ranger fans can feel very, very good about their team.