New York Rangers Enjoy Successful First Half, Fans Recall Success of '94 Season

Scott Abuso@@abusemeoCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 26:  Goalie Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the New York Islanders makes a save on a shot by Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers in an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden on December 26, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

To date, the New York Rangers boast a 31-12-4 record. 

With 66 points, the Rangers currently lead the Eastern conference by a slim margin of two points.  Though I'd love to see a lead of a few more points, first place is first place.

If you told yourself at the beginning of the season that the Broadway Blueshirts would be in first place at the All-Star break, raise your hand.

Okay, now if you actually believed yourself when you said that, you're a minority.

It's not that we as fans don't love the Rangers, but our recent memories have left us with much to be desired.

A franchise looked at as the Yankees of the NHL, (and by Yankees I mean being somewhat successful despite making questionable trades and signing players who are passed their prime) things were rough in the life of a Rangers fan. 

This season, however, something magical seems to be happening.  The New York Rangers are winning, and they're doing so consistently.

Their most recent notable accomplishments include a 3-0 shutout of the Winnipeg Jets and an intense 3-2 overtime victory against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.

The offense has been clicking.  Not to the point where the team is scoring four or five goals a game, but they are getting pucks to the back of the net.

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 24: Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the New York Rangers controls the puck during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets on January 24, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Though the Rangers have scored an average of 2.8 goals per game so far, they've manage to record a GF/GA differential of +36.

To put that in perspective, the Flyers, fourth in the conference but third in points, have scored 3.37 GPG and have a GF/GA differential of +20.

This demonstrates the dominance of the Rangers defense this season, which is a success story all on its own.

Though the Rangers usually have a decent defense and outstanding goaltending in Henrik Lundqvist, this year's blue line is clicking very well.

With the early absence of Marc Staal and the current injuries to Sauer and Eminger, the Rangers defense was not expected to do much, but they went above and beyond the call of duty.  Right now, the work that Staal, Girardi, McDonagh, Del Zotto and Bickel are putting in is paying off.

To top it all off, the Rangers have outstanding chemistry both on and off the ice.  The ever popular "Broadway Hat" is passed around between the boys to whomever they feel is deserving of the unofficial award.

Fans look at this team, at the passion, the pride, the talent and the excellence they show on the ice each and every night, and they can't help but see a Stanley Cup victory in their midst.

There has recently been talk of the Rangers '94 team, and how similar both squads are in some aspects.

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 03:  Adam Graves #9 (2nd L) poses with former New York Rangers players Mike Richter (L) Brian Leetch (2nd R) and Mark Messier after his jersey was raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden during a ceremony prior to a game between
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

I, unfortunately, was only 2 months old when the Rangers battled for and won the Cup in 1994.  But I have watched countless videos of Mark Messier, Mike Richter and Brian Leetch.  It's hard not to see how talented and how all around great these guys were.

Now, for the first time in my existence as a die-hard Rangers fan, I'm genuinely excited for the playoffs.  When I look at the team, I see a group of men who put it all on the ice, night after night.  Blocked shots and body checks, they do it all to win games.

With the drive, determination and pure heart the Rangers have displayed thus far, it's hard not to believe in this team.

I know I'm not alone when I say I would love to see Ryan Callahan hoisting the cup and skating around the rink in MSG.

All the Rangers faithful can do now is wait.


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