New York Rangers' 5 Most Impressive Individual Performances in 2013-14
The New York Rangers are in a fight for their playoff lives. And if their 2013-14 season is going to be considered a success, then the team will need players to put up some big performances.
By looking back at some of the most impressive individual performances of the season, we can get a sense of which players are primed for big performances down the stretch.
What were the Rangers' five most impressive individual performances of the 2013-14 season thus far?
Read on to find out.
Honorable Mention: Dominic Moore's Two Goals Against Toronto
Dominic Moore was not brought in to score goals.
He was brought in to win faceoffs, kill penalties and play solid defense.
He's done all that. But Moore has had a few nice offensive moments.
None was better than his two-goal performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 4, a game the Rangers won, 7-1.
Moore scored both goals unassisted, which is pretty impressive.
Moore has been a fantastic signing, playing his fourth-line role perfectly. The Rangers will need him to continue to play well going forward.
5. Cam Talbot Shuts out Montreal
If you knew who Cam Talbot was before this season, you are simply lying.
Talbot had toiled at that hockey power, the University of Alabama-Huntsville, for a few years before being signed by the Rangers. In the 2012-13 season with the Hartford Wolfpack, Talbot posted an average 2.63 goals-against average.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, Talbot has established himself as one of the best backup goaltenders in hockey. He's posted a sparkling 1.76 GAA and a .937 save percentage.
The first time that Rangers fans knew he was special was when he shutout the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal.
He made 22 saves for his first career shutout in only his fifth career start.
It's hard to imagine where the Rangers would be without Talbot. When Henrik Lundqvist was struggling in the early parts of the season, it was Talbot who helped stabilize the team and keep them in contention.
This game in November was the start of a special rookie season for the 26-year-old.
4. Rick Nash Plays Emotionally Charged Game in Return to Columbus
So what if Rick Nash didn't get a point in his return to Columbus on March 21.
It was still his best performance as a Ranger.
How can we say that? It's simple. In 99 games as a Ranger, Nash has never been more physical, more energized or more impactful.
Whether it was the fight in the third period against Matt Calvert or the scrum he started in the second period when he punched goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, Nash played with an edge that we simply have not seen.
“(Bobrovsky) gave me two slashes in the back of the leg in the first period, and then I go to pick up my stick and he flings it away,” Nash told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “What am I supposed to do, let a guy push me around?”
That attitude from Nash just hasn't been there in his time in New York. Too often, Nash has played as a gentle giant, not using his 6'4", 213-pound frame nearly enough.
It was clear from the start that Nash wanted to prove something upon his return to the city where he spent his first nine seasons. He certainly did. And it seems like that emotion is going to carry over. He played another good game on Saturday against New Jersey, where he scored the game-winning goal.
The Rangers need Nash to be a power forward. That's what he did against Columbus. And it could be the spark for a special rest of the season.
3. Chris Kreider's Hat Trick Against Vancouver
Chris Kreider and John Tortorella were like oil and water.
While Kreider certainly made his fair share of mistakes, he was miscast on the fourth line by Tortorella, and Kreider was never able to regain his playoff magic from two seasons earlier.
Now that Kreider has established himself as a regular first-liner under Alain Vigneault, it was fitting that he had his best game of the season against Tortorella's Vancouver Canucks.
Kreider had a hat trick, the first of his career, helping propel the Rangers to a dominant 5-2 win on Nov. 30.
The 22-year-old has become an important contributor for the Rangers, with 17 goals and 20 assists.
2. Mats Zuccarello Scores Two Outdoors
With the Rangers down 3-2 against the New Jersey Devils outdoors at Yankee Stadium, it was up to the diminutive spark plug who has fueled the Rangers' offense all season long.
Mats Zuccarello scored two goals 10 minutes apart to give the Rangers the lead and the eventual victory.
While the performance by the team as a whole was pretty special, it was Zuccarello who led the way and turned this game into a blowout.
Zuccarello has been spectacular this season, with 15 goals and 34 assists. He's second on the team in points.
1. Henrik Lundqvist Become Rangers All-Time Leader in Shutouts
Henrik Lundqvist is the most decorated goalie in Rangers history.
Earlier in March, he passed Mike Richter for most career wins for a goaltender. And Saturday night against the Devils, he passed Eddie Giacomin for most shutouts as a Ranger.
Against the Devils, Lundqvist was once again spectacular, with 21 saves against a desperate team.
It has not been the best season for Lundqvist, with a dreadful start, but he has certainly found his way. He has held opponents to two or fewer goals in 16 of his last 23 games. And that doesn't even include his spectacular performance in Sochi, Russia.
The stats won't be there for Lundqvist, but he has battled back to become, once again, the Rangers' best and most important player.