Why The New York Rangers Are In First Place In The Eastern Conference
The New York Rangers won their fifth straight game last night, four of which rivalry games, by defeating the New York Islanders 3-0 at Madison Square Garden.
The win put the Rangers in first place in the Eastern Conference, something Rangers fans have been waiting for for a long time.
There are many reasons the Rangers are in first place right now, not even including Olivia Munn. Let's take a look at the reasons.
Depth- As I mentioned in the game thread last night, the Rangers have four complete lines that are working out right now.
The GAS line (Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan) has two players capable of scoring, but also especially talented at setting up the best offensive player on the team, Marian Gaborik. Gaborik is skilled at turning the passes into goals.
The 2nd line, which is home to Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards, and Ryan Callahan, outworks teams and has a little bit of everything. Speed from Hagelin, a great veteran passer that can also score in Richards, and the captain that will out hustle you and turn that hustle into goals in Callahan.
The best defensive line is perhaps the third line, which consists of two players struggling on offense. This line, which consists of Brandon Dubinsky, Brian Boyle, and John Mitchell, completely shuts down the opposing offense by using their strength to hold onto the puck and by using their bodies to block opposing shots.
Finally, the fourth line of Ruslan Fedotenko, Michael Rupp, and Brandon Prust can fight, terrorize, or wear down the opponents.
Filling in the holes- Injuries to Marc Staal, Wotjek Wolski, Michael Sauer, Steve Eminger, and more should have created problems for the surging Rangers this season. Instead, the players filling in for the injured players used the opportunities to prove their talent.
Ryan McDonagh does not know what a sophomore slump is, while a player that struggled from a sophomore slump is breaking out, Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto is 2nd in the league with a +25 rating, and is first on the team in assists.
Follow me for more after the jump.Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron
- Henrik is the king. Posting a 2.03 GAA (prior to the shutout last night) three shutouts (including last night) and a .934 save percentage, (prior to last night) Lundqvist has caused nightmares for opposing offenses.
Meanwhile, Lundqvist's backup, Martin Biron, is having a fantastic season as well. Biron boasts victories over the Sabres and Sharks, among others. Biron has gotten the job done, winning seven of his eight starts.
Marian Gaborik's MVP type season- I am not sure yet if Gaborik is my MVP as of now, but he's certainly in the top three. Gaborik owns a five game goal streak, and has already tallied more scores than all of last season.
While some wanted Gaborik out of New York, it seems like they have been quieted by Gaborik's amazing season,
The beauty of all of these reasons are that they do not seem to be going away any time soon. The depth, even if injuries occur, will be replaced by players returning from injuries. Lundqvist and Gaborik will continue to be Lundqvist and Gaborik, and the players that have filled in are only gaining confidence as they go.
This season is not a fluke. (Although I do know Rob L. and George will likely have stats that disagree!)