If the Rangers rang in the New Year as fun-loving hockey players have been known to do, you couldn’t tell it by their practice today. Held an hour earlier in order to make time for their long flight to Calgary, it was a spirited session for a team that is at least on stronger footing than it was a year ago.
Thanks to some number-crunching from our crack research staff — OK, it was me sifting through the media guide — we know the Rangers’ current record of 20-15-4 is only slightly better than their 19-17-4 mark on New Year’s Day last season. The difference is the general feeling this team might not need the dramatic overhaul that was required last year to push them over the hump.
That’s not to say roster moves won’t be made. Even Tom Renney said the team will use these next six weeks to gauge what, if anything they need by the trade deadline.
â€œAlthough the numbers suggest weâ€™re pretty much at the same point, I feel better about this group moving forward into the second half of the year than I did last year,â€ Renney said. â€œI think weâ€™ve got enough here to win, but these next six weeks are pretty important. Weâ€™ll see if weâ€™ve got enough to get us over the top. We want to contend.â€
But whereas last season there was a steady stream of trades and other moves — Avery for Ward, Dupuis for Hall, Mara for Ward, Jason Krog, Brad Isbister, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan — I don’t expect as much activity.
But that’s just now. I’m sure we’ll be revisiting the topic again. As for news: