First off, happy Thanksgiving to all of the great BR writers who contribute such great articles to this site. One thing we all can be thankful for is this great BR community. The great feedback I have received from all of my readers has made me a better writer.
Today is turkey day, the day we give thanks for things that are important to us. There are some things that Rangers fans definitely should be thankful for this year, and of course, it starts with Henrik Lundqvist...
The king of New York has been key for the Rangers this year. He leads the league in wins, and has stolen some games for the Rangers.
He had a bad game against Vancouver, but we couldn't expect him to be amazing the entire season, that would be unrealistic. The king was not bothered by it at all though, following up the poor game with two very good ones against Phoenix and Tampa Bay. All hail king Henrik!
The only real blemish on his season was the game against Toronto, in which he was not far away from getting a shutout. He wound up giving up five goals in what seemed like just a blink, but overall, he's been very good this year, and has filled in when necessary.
The Rangers should be thankful that they can give Henrik a night off when needed.
Boy did the Rangers miss him when he was injured. They were 3-2 in his absence, but probably didn't deserve to be, and it showed in the two losses. The two wins against Boston and Ottawa were games in which they didn't play well at all, and escaped with a SO win. The two losses were both horribly played games, and the team lacked the speed that Gomez has become known for.
In the two games since his return, The Rangers are 2-0, beating the Coyotes 4-1, and the Lighting 3-2 in a SO. They have also found the speed that made them look so great earlier in the year.
Yes, I said it, we should be thankful for Tom Renney. It was only two games ago that many were screaming for him to be fired (and I wrote "Tom Renney Is Screaming at Deaf Ears") but Tom was gotten a response from his team.
Every year that the team has hit its lowest, Tom Renney has been there to lift them up (with the exception of the end of 05-06, but not even Scotty Bowman could have helped them) and get them back on track.
Monday's game against Phoenix was key for him. If they played like they did the previous two games, it might have been the end of the Tom Renney era. Instead, the team has responded the way we all were hoping they would. Tom Renney's system may not be the most exciting to watch, it might not be the most offensive, but it sure is working.
He's an elite talent. With five assists in the last two games, "Z" has emerged as a great talent for the Rangers. His amazing dekes and quick skating has given the Rangers an offensive threat. You never know what Zherdev is going to do with the puck.
It won't be long before he's first on sportscenter's top 10 plays.
He's quietly been putting up some real solid numbers. I have yet to see a Markus Naslund jersey in the garden. He's on pace for a little bit more then 60 points, and on a team that has struggled to score goals, that is going to be huge.
Markus Naslund hasn't been as flashy as Nikolai Zherdev, but he's been very productive anyway. Good job Naslund!
Case in point, he's been the best defenseman on this team all year. I can't remember more then one time this season where I've though, "bad play by Girardi." He's provided steady offense from the blue line, sitting fourth on the team in scoring, which is key for a defensive team. He's not shy about hitting, and is always in the right position. He's quietly become a member of the best defenseman in the league.
No, he's not Lidstrom, or Phanuef, but he's been very good in every aspect of the game.
The Fourth Line
Fredrik Sjostrom-Blair Betts-Colton Orr. The only line that has been kept together all year, and for good reason. They have consistently been good, always doing their job.
Sjostrom was more of an offensive player in Phoenix, but here in New York, he's developed in to a very good defensive forward. He's learning from one of the best in that department in Blair Betts.
Betts has not only been amazing defensively, but he has started to chip in some offense as well. Colton Orr is not only one of the top fighters in the league, but he has really improved his skating, and has done very well on the fore check. He has yet to notch a goal yet, but even so, he's played very well, and has made great strides towards being a much better player.
Currently second in the league, the PK has been amazing for us. While the PP has struggled, the other aspect of special teams might have won some games for us. Such a good PK gives the team the security that if they need to "send a message" and go after a player on the other team, the PK has got their back, and can keep it from biting them in the arse.
On a team that was full of question marks going in to this year, sitting in first is a pleasant surprise.
You wouldn't have been crazy to pick them finishing with a high seed, nor would you be crazy if you picked them to be irrelevant this year. Nobody knew what the team would be like this year, but they have come out of the gate fast, and are now first in the east, and second in the NHL.
They have played at least two more games than anyone else in the NHL, but even with some spotty play at times this year, they have been among the best all year. Good Job Rangers
Be sure to leave your comments on what your thankful for this year (Rangers related of course) and have a very happy turkey day.