We at Blog Headquarters have been busy sifting through pages of research — and by “pages of research,” I mean a single sheet listing the Rangers wins and losses thus far — and the conclusions we’ve come to have been this:
Of the team’s 17 wins this season, 10 have been against an opponent with a winning record, but only five have been against an opponent that is above them in the standings: four against New Jersey, and one against Ottawa. Furthermore, of those five wins, one came when Ottawa was mired in a debilitating losing streak, and three came when the Devils were still immersed in their early-season soul-searching.
So there you have it: the Rangers really have won only one impressive game this season, the steak-snapping overtime win over the Devils on Dec. 9 — and even then it took them more than 60 minutes to score a single goal!
OK, so I’m being slightly sarcastic. After all, one of the Rangers’ best showings was a 3-2 loss to high-flying Dallas, when they outplayed the Stars for 60 minutes only to see Henrik Lundqvist temporarily morph into Mike Dunham. And the other part to consider is if it wasn’t for the Rangers three wins over them, the Penguins would be tied for first place in the Atlantic Division.
What does all this mean? I have no idea. I have a cold, my wife is due with our second child possibly at any moment, and I’ve averaged about four hours of sleep over the past week.
But even amidst all that, I do know that the next three games, the first of which comes tonight against first-place Minnesota, is an opportunity for the Rangers to measure themselves against the league’s elite, and perhaps make their case that they belong among them.
I don’t think it will be easy. A back-to-back against two drastically different but equally challenging teams — the Wild play a defensive style while the Avalanche tomorrow can score in bunches — is a tall order. And then the Rangers come back home to play the revived Senators on Sunday.
Put it all together, and any of those wins would count as impressive.