If I asked you....

which defenseman in the NHL is in the top ten (in that mostly useless statistic) in Plus/Minus, and plays top pair, with an average 25:21 Time On Ice per game - would you be able to name him?

Don't go looking it up. Just sit back and think about it.

At the beginning of the season when Marc Staal was out, many of us were dreading what was to come. He was clearly the No. 1, and 'that other guy', you know, Girardi, was his partner. A good player to be sure, but not the #1. "Woe is Us!" we cried.

And maybe a month into the season, we saw that Danny G. - without the shadow of Marc Staal, had significantly elevated his game.

Then there was his partner. Oh yeah....Ryan McDonagh. A second year player - well you really could call him a rookie since it's his first FULL season in the bigs. Who just quietly goes about his business (not terribly unlike either Girardi or Staal, if you think about it), plays a superbly smart game, gets his stick in the right position more often than not,


...and yes - is now 8th in the NHL in Plus/Minus at PLUS-25, and averages 25:21 total TOI per game (currently 12th in the league).

Thank you Scott Gomez, thank you Les Canadiens. And thank you, Glen Sather.

And did you realize that Danny G. is Plus-16? Your top d-pair, both of whom are top 12 in the league in minutes played, against the other teams top players, are a combined Plus-41? Of course, don't forget that Michael DelZotto, he of the DelZero, DelNada, DelTurnover jokes in the not so distant past, is number 3 league-wide at Plus-27.

And King Henrik is having the Vezina year we've known was in him. With Marty B. the best one-two goaltending combo in the league.

Now Glen - whatever you do - don't blow up this team before Feb. 27th. Don't mess with the chemistry. Let it ride. You've got a good prospect pipeline - you're getting unbelievable contributions from unlikely sources (think Hagelin, Bickel, etc.) and Strahlman may end up being the best 'safe and smart' move ever - the guy gets better every game.

I'll be the first to admit that pre-season I would have been happy with 4th or 5th in the conference, and felt that was realistic. Never would I have said "1st in the conference and challenging for the President's Cup" - not a prayer. And as tempting as some big move would be to make a push for the Cup, it would be the single most egregious error - ever. Because it would be just as likely to backfire as work out.

Trust the team. Trust the system. Trust in Prust. (Hey, I had to get that one in there, c'mon!). I don't care if they don't win the Cup this year. I wasn't expecting them to be real contenders - would have been happy with a 2nd round (Conference Semi's) appearance and maybe a Conference Final.

Build for a dynasty - don't give up what it would take to get a name in here who may or may not work out. Stay the course.

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