The opening month of the NHL season was not too kind to the New York Rangers. The newly assembled roster got off to a 3-9 start, which got Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault the first-class ticket onto the hot seat. But since this abysmal start, the Rangers have started to click, as they currently ride a 5 game win streak that featured some heavyweight opponents. So what has been the difference?
For one, the powerplay has really been coming together. The Rangers sit 5th in the NHL in power-play percentage, something Rangers fans historically aren’t used to. The difference on the powerplay has been Kevin Shattenkirk, the recently acquired Ranger. In the past, Ryan McDonagh served as the only threat shooting from the point. With Shattenkirk playing alongside him, thus creating two threats from up top, this has allowed for players like Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey find space to operate around the net. Vesey’s two-goal performance against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night propelled the Blueshirts to their 5th straight win, and Shattenkirk’s 16 points lead all NHL Defensemen.
As usual, however, the Ranger’s success the past week or so has been consistent with one thing: the play of Henrik Lundqvist. When Lundqvist do well, so do the Rangers. And when he doesn’t do well, you can probably guess how the Rangers play.
A 31 save performance against Boston was Lundqvist’s 5th start in a row, all 5 of which had been wins. The Ranger’s star goalie leads all NHL goaltenders in wins during November. With a 7-4 record, Lundqvist has a .903 save percentage.
Things are looking good for the Rangers. Lundqvist has found his game, we are witnessing the prime of Mika Zibanejad, and Kevin Shattenkirk is playing all-star level hockey. Their next game will be Saturday at home against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Following that, the Rangers will see Chicago, Columbus, and Ottawa, all great tests for a very hot New York Rangers team right now.
Stealing some wins against these contenders could be huge. We’ll see if Lundqvist and the boys are ready for the challenge.