How should we view the NY Rangers with 9 games left?

The New York Rangers were the preseason favorites--or second, depending on who you listened to--to win the 2013 Stanley Cup Championship. I was excited, you were excited, and the whole hockey world was excited because on Christmas 2012 we didn't think any of the predictions would matter, as there were no signs of ending the lockout that really could have set the game back after it's most popular year in a very long time (ever?).

So here we are. Nine. Games. Left. That alone makes me pretty sad, because I could watch hockey all year long (I mean it's 4:30pm and I still have work to do, and I'm taking the time to right this). Honestly, a few weeks ago, it wasn't looking very good for the Rangers. We had one of the best snipers in the game on our team, but he was underachieving. Whatever the reason was, either an injury or the "system" as some of us had said, he just wasn't a 40-goal scorer this season. Then, to the surprise of us all, the Rangers trade him away for players that only some of us have heard of, and I (admittedly) and others were pretty pissed about it. After the mania subsided, I view this trade as a smart one. We all know we freed up money for next year and got three young players that can play. We also know that Gaby waived his no-trade clause to go to Columbus, Ohio to play hockey, so he probably either wasn't handling the pressure well, or wasn't happy in general.But scoring was the issue all season, and after getting rid of our most successful scorer since Jagr, we have been scoring more often.

Two weeks ago, we didn't think we could even remotely hang with Pittsburgh. Even though they were without Sid, we thoroughly dominated them for 60 minutes for the first time in a long time, and the team showed signs of the 2011-2012 team. I think that the added toughness, without giving up *too* much skill, to the team has helped it become more competitive than it was prior to the trades mainly due to the fact that the successes of "grinding it out" combined with skilled offense has given the team more opportunities to gain confidence, and the team has more of a hybrid identity now. A main aspect of that was missing with this team earlier in the year was comfort. Gaby struggling made the team uncomfortable, and when you're uncomfortable you lack confidence. This is now a confident team, just like 2011-2012 team was a confident team.

  • Now we have a line that will score almost every game in the Nash-Step-Cally/Hag line. They will score tonight, next game, and in the playoffs. We didn't have that last year after Gaborik got hurt in the playoffs.
  • We actually have a couple playmakers on our 2nd line with Richie and MZA with a decent scorer and strong presence in Clowe
  • 3rd line has potential, but I'd like to see a scorer with a crafty playmaker like Brass.
  • Depth, Depth, Depth. We have a 4TH LINE that is trusted to play, instead of wearing the team down by running 3 lines out there every night. ***This is one of the keys to the team's success going forward***
  • Getting Staal back is crucial to making us legitimate contenders, IMO
  • Henrik Lundqvist

I believe this team actually has the players (and SYSTEM) to compete. They have been playing with confidence. No teams at the top are really on fire right now, and we've been playing on par with the rest of them for a few games with the new additions. I'm not predicting a Stanley Cup Championship, but I feel way more optimistic about this team than I did when we lost to the Habs. Once again, I love this team, and I think it's a team that can do some damage.

I love this team, fellow fans, and The Banter

-The Gunslinger

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