By Brian Monzo
» More Columns
If you were to look at the top of the Eastern Conference, you’d see the New York Rangers leading the East in points.
If you were to ask Rangers coach John Tortorella about that, he wouldn’t care.
He knows the truth. The truth is, as good as this team has been, they are still a work in progress and a team that has to continue to grow to prove their worth as a top team in the league.
He’s right. There is plenty of work for the team to do. That’s basically been their mantra this season. Good is not good enough. In this league, it can’t be.
Last season the Vancouver Canucks were great, and that wasn’t good enough.
But right now, and for the better part of the season, it’s been very good for the Rangers. It seems whatever switch Tortorella flips, it works.
There have been a ton of things that have been impressive. Start with Henrik Lundqvist, as always. 15 wins, 3 shutouts and a goals against average under 2.00. He is playing at a Vezina Trophy caliber. Ryan Callahan has soared as first year captain. His 13 goals are second on the team, and the intangibles he has brought on and off the ice are priceless. Derek Stepan continues to grow. Artem Anisimov is getting better.
The injuries to Marc Staal and Michael Sauer have somehow not killed the blueline. Dan Girardi and Ryan McDongh have become a top shutdown pairing. Michael Del Zotto is doing amazing things with the puck. Fill in guys like Anton Stralman and rookie Tim Erixon have gotten the job done.
Not to be forgotten has to be the goaltending of Martin Biron. He is 7-1-0 with a GAA of 1.84. I will repeat that … a GAA of 1.84. I think I’ve said enough.
Two of the biggest keys of late have Marian Gaborik and rookie Carl Hagelin. Gaborik, now the NHL league leader in goals with 22, has been playing the brand of hockey that earned him the recognition as a premier goal scorer in the league. He is finding the puck, he is skating as well as he has in a Ranger jersey and he is finishing players.
Hagelin call up a few weeks back was to add another depth body with injuries. He is now playing a line with Richards and Callahan, and his speed is like nothing we’ve seen in a Ranger jersey since the likes of Tony Amonte. He has 6 goals in 16 games, including two shorthanded goals. He has earned himself a chance to play a key role the rest of the season.
The fact is, they are doing close to everything right. But to compete with the top teams in the league, they will need to continue to do the right things and keep getting better.
Follow me on Twitter: BMonzoWFAN