By Brian Monzo
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It took 13 games, but the revamped New York Rangers finally look to hitting their stride. After their rough seven game road trip to start the season (which included their first three games in Europe) the Rangers closed out a six game homestand at 4-1-1. This could only be the beginning. They seem to be getting better by the game.
As I’ve said up until last Wednesday’s game against the Ducks at MSG, the Rangers seemed like they were not dictating any of the gameplay, and just hanging around and still finding ways to win. However, their last two games over the weekend, they were the better team against the Canadiens and the Jets. They also dominated about 90% of those games, both physically and on the scoreboard.
The game on Saturday at MSG against the Habs was great and as solid of a win you could have. More impressive to me, was the win Sunday night against the Jets. I know what you are thinking, and you’re right, the Jets are not very good. However, think about the scenario — it’s a Sunday night, after a great day of football, the second game in two nights — a perfect throwaway game. Yes, the Rangers came out a tad lazy, but they got their legs going, and won a game that old Rangers teams easily would have lost 4-1.
All this and Brandon Dubinsky has not scored a goal yet.
Speaking of scoring, it’s pretty sweet to see Marian Gaborik playing healthy again. All year last season, all we heard were fans killing Gaborik for being a bust and a weak player (a year after scoring 42 goals). Everyone seems to forget he had shoulder issues and a concussion, along with whatever dings and dents a hockey player suffers with throughout an 82 game season. Gaborik has been the best player for the Rangers this season, scoring 7 goals and adding 6 assists in 13 games this season. Every shift he does something noticeable.
Second year center Derek Stepan seems to have found his step and has been given an increased role by coach Tortorella. Stepan is seeing the ice well and making quality plays every game, and it’s paying dividends. Stepan is being used on the power play more, and is being used with Gaborik on a line.
The Rangers seem to be hitting their stride, and if they can remain consistent, they could be a top team in the league.
All this, and Brandon Dubinsky hasn’t scored a goal yet. And I didn’t mention Henrik Lundqvist, or Brad Richards. Things are looking good.
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