Rangers with a chance to make noise in the postseason
One thing that might get old, however, is losing in either the first or second round, something the team has done a lot of since the 2008-09 season. Yes, the club made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals two seasons ago but other than that season, the Rangers have gone home losers in hockey's second season.
With all of that said, the Blueshirts have a chance to change their fortunes this season. Besides the fact that the East is wide open and not as elite as the Western Conference, the Rangers have a lot of other things going for them heading into the most important part of the year in the NHL.
For starters, the Blueshirts have Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes. While it has been an up and down season for the "King", Lundqvist has seemed to find his game at the right time and is currently 32-24-5 with a 2.39 goals against average, a .920 save percentage and five shutouts.
When Henrik is on his game, he might be the best goalie in all of hockey. If the Rangers have that Lundqvist between the pipes, the team certainly has a chance to go a long way this postseason.
Secondly, the Rangers finally have offensive depth. In previous seasons, the team seemed to rely on the same guys to produce and score goals game in and game out, but this season has been very different for the Blueshirts.
As of this writing, the Rangers have seven players with at least 17 goals (Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, and Chris Kreider). The team also has two players with at least 20 goals (Nash and Richards) and five players with at least 43 points (Zuccarello, Stepan, Richards, Brassard, and Ryan McDonagh).
Come playoff time, depth goes a long ways. This could be true for the Rangers as they will be able to roll all three lines knowing that they have players who can put the puck in the net and produce on each line.
The Rangers have also had a much better year in terms of special teams, especially when it comes to the power play. Last season, the team's power play failed them time and time again and more often than not, caused them to lose hockey games that they should have won.
This season, the club's power play has had a lot more success. As of this writing, the team is 13th in the league with the man advantage at 18.7 percent.
Lastly, the Rangers have a coach in Alain Vigneault that preaches speed and throwing pucks on net. Yes, a good defense can help clubs win championships, but if the club cannot score goals, what is that going to matter?
Under Vigneault, the Rangers have shown more of a nose for the net and a lot less hesitation with the puck. The Blueshirts are actually third in the league this season in average just over 33 shots per game and if the team can do that come April, May, and June, they may win more than a few rounds.
The Rangers may not be the league's best team, but given their goaltender, offensive depth, special teams, and head coach, they are certainly one to be feared when it comes to playing for hockey's Holy Grail.