Not quite the mathematical halfway point of the season, but 40 is a nice round number. This has been one of the more exciting seasons in a while, very different from the past two seasons where a strong first dozen (or so) games have given way to slumps, poor play and the overall feeling of stagnation from within the organization. Here's my take on the first 40 games of the year so far.
From the sports cliche department:
If you were to tell me that...
- The Rangers would not lose more than 2 games in a row
- The Rangers would be a top 10 team in both goals for and goals against
- The Rangers would not have Gaborik for about a month, Prospal for the entire season, Drury for 30 or so games, Callahan break his hand
- Win 2 games against the Pens in Pittsburgh
- Destroy the Caps 7-0
- Brian Boyle would top his career goal total and then some
- Brandon Prust would lead the league in SHG
- Michael Sauer would play valuable minutes and make virtually no mistakes
- Martin Biron would have more wins that Martin Brodeur
- They would be 9-1-0 in the second game of back to back games
- They would be 8-4-0 against the Atlantic division
- They would be 6-2-1 against the Northeast division
- They would be 2-2 in OT and 2-1 in the shoot-out, but overall relying less on going to extra time
And the team would be 7 games over .500, winning more than 58% of the possible 80 points then I would have surely signed on the dotted line.
There's a lot of negativity surrounding the most recent losses in the Sunshine State this past weekend, but consider the number of players 25 and younger (Boyle, Callahan, Dubinsky, Staal, MZA, Sauer, Del Zotto, Stepan) let alone the number of players 30 and under (those guys plus: Avery, Frolov, Lundqvist, Gaborik, Boogaard, Girardi, Eminger, Gilroy, Prust, Christensen) and you've got a pretty rewarding season so far.
Like every team, there are definitely improvements. Gaborik has been a little off, particularly when you take out his hat tricks against the Oilers and Islanders. Special teams have not been that impressive, although the PK had a pretty good stretch going at one point. They are 2-5-2 against the Southeast division, having lost to every team in that division. They are 0-2-0 against Philly, the team that looks to be the class of the Eastern conference and are 0-1-2 against Tampa, teams have more high end skill.
But I think as a whole, you can't be disappointed with how things have gone.