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Newcomers & Goaltending Leading The Way For Rangers Solid Start

RangersAfter a quick 3 straight wins out of the gate, the Blueshirts hit a bit of a skid. They were handed their first L of the year thanks to a 40-save performance by Jets backup Michael Hutchinson before getting blanked by the reigning MVP in the Habs’ home-opener. An OT loss to the Devils was one they were a Nash tap-in or Stepan crossbar away from avoiding, but they bounced back in a big way for Antti Raanta’s Rangers debut with a 4-0 trouncing of San Jose. It’s hard to put too much stock into October hockey for a squad that’s beaten around the Cup bush for the past two years, but here’s a few things to take from their 4-2-1 start.
Tanner Glass is officially in the AHL! Hooray!
Goaltending has been outstanding. A solid Lundqvist is ordinarily no surprise except he’s struggled early in the prior two seasons. A little support (just 2 goals in his last 3 starts) would help – Hank kept his team within one deep into the third period against Winnipeg & Montreal. And after Cam Talbot proved how important a backup is, fans couldn’t have been happier to see Raanta blank the Sharks in his Rangers debut. The guy has never lost a regulation home game in his career (15-0-3). That’s pretty impressive. No reason to doubt Raanta Claus in the 15-20 starts he’ll see.
Tanner Glass is officially in the AHL! Hooray!
A couple of prominent Blueshirts have yet to find the back of the net. Nash & Kreider have 42 shots between them but nothing to show for it. I’m not too worried about their top 2 goal scorers from a year ago, especially Nash who was all over the ice against the Sharks. Rookie Oscar Lindberg, Zucc & Stepan have accounted for 11 of the team’s 18 goals so far, forcing AV to juggle the lines to try and find some balance. Stepan & Brassard swapped spots and Fast buried one playing in the top-6 Monday night. Kevin Hayes’ quiet start has him dropped back to the third line while Victor Stalberg is now rolling with Moore & Stoll. Regardless of who’s playing where there’s been a couple of noticeable changes as a group. First, they’re doing much better on draws thanks in large part to Brassard’s 10% improvement. Also, newbies Stalberg, Lindberg & Stoll are throwing the body around a ton. Only three teams average more hits per game than NY.
Tanner Glass is officially in the AHL! Hooray!
Everyone clamoring for Sather/Gorton to dump Kevin Klein look pretty stupid. He’s easily been the team’s best blueliner. Whatever the team needs – a check, a block, a fight, a goal – Klein has done it all and is now playing on the top pair with Captain McD because of it. Dan Girardi’s poor play surely had something to do with that move too. Dan Boyle has made some pretty awful mistakes after a pretty awful preseason but has apples on both Rangers PP goals so I guess he still serves a purpose. As a unit I don’t think there’s been any surprises though. G’s been on the decline ever since Vigneault took over & Boyle is 87 years old. They’re still one of the deepest 6 in the league and have Brady Skjei waiting to provide a spark if regular minutes open up one way or another.
Tanner Glass is officially in the AHL! Hooray!
Outside of an abysmal power play there’s been no major holes exposed after 7 games – and I wasn’t expecting any. Everyone donning a NYR sweater for the first time have done exactly what they were supposed to do & those were the question marks. Oscar’s been fantastic, Hank is still gonna Hank and I’ll bet Nash & Kreider don’t go scoreless. 75 more games is a long way from playoffs, but if you were as confident in the Rangers as I was before the season started then you gotta love ‘em even more right now.