The New York Rangers rollercoaster ride of a season continues. After a 4-3 win in Tampa Bay on Sunday night, the Rangers have won three out of four. The team’s record sits at 19-19-2 through 40 games, which is not exactly where we expected this team to be sitting. Still, the Rangers have fought through injuries and inconsistent play and have proved that they have a bit of resiliency in them.
Henrik Lundqvist played for the first time in four games and performed well. He did not seem to be rusty from the time off and made plenty of big saves for the Rangers, especially in the third period. While it would be nice to see Lundqvist give up fewer than three goals (which he has not done in his past nine games), his play last night was the most vintage-Lundqvist that we have seen in a while. All three goals were the result of poor decisions or poor positioning by the defense. If Lundqvist continues to perform how he did last night, he will have no problem holding onto the number one goaltending spot for the Rangers, even if Talbot continues to play well.
Mats Zuccarello continues to be the Rangers best forward. He had a goal and two assists last night, making him the Rangers point leader with 28. He is the one Blueshirt who can carry the puck into the offensive zone with confidence and keep possession. He has easily been the best Blueshirt in December (and Pouliot), and makes the power play much more effective.
Speaking of Pouliot, he extended his career high point streak to seven games. He leads the team with 5 PPG on the season. He has established himself as a presence on the power play, and is willing to battle in front of the crease, unlike most Rangers. He has such good hands and shows sparks of skill that makes it clear why the Rangers have given him a shot for so long.
Rick Nash finally scored. It was his first goal in eight games and seemed to get his game going. He was skating with much more confidence and explosiveness after the goal, and was much more visible on the whole. Hopefully, that goal gets him going moving forward, as the Rangers need him.
Conor Allen made his NHL debut for the Rangers because of the injuries to Stralman and Staal. He played about 16 minutes and did not make any glaring mistakes. His solid play will probably allow the Rangers to continue to shop Del Zotto, as he continues to look lost out there.
Ryan Callahan and Marc Staal both skated on Monday morning. That is obviously a great sign as both players have been out for a few weeks. Callahan should be back within the next week or so, and Staal will hopefully be back around the same time. Of course, with Staal’s concussion history we do not want to jump to conclusions, but the fact that he is skating is a positive sign.
The Rangers get back into action on Tuesday at 5 PM vs. the Panthers. The Rangers would love to get a win in Florida as the schedule gets very tough after Tuesday, with games against Pittsburgh, Toronto, Columbus, and Chicago coming up. Expect to see Lundqvist back in goal on Tuesday.