I am as guilty as anyone of poking holes in the Rangers’ record this season, as if it’s all a result of smoke, mirrors, and creative accounting.
“The most frustrating first-place team in history.” I’ve had more than one person describe the Rangers as that to me, and given their low-scoring tendencies and somewhat vanilla personality, I can understand why.
And yet, as the team disperses for the All-Star break after “an impressive win last night over the Ducks”:http://www.lohud.com/article/20090121/SPORTS01/901210383/-1/SPORTS, maybe it’s time to start embracing the Rangers for what they are.
They are a team that has only occasionally budged from their spot atop the standings.
They are a team featuring arguably the best goalie in the game, and one of the best penalty-killing units.
They are a group devoid of any one superstar skater, but they’re also a team that can expect production from various segments of its lineup on any given night.
They are a team in far better shape than they were at this same point the previous two seasons.
Look, no one is engraving Blair Betts’ name into the Stanley Cup just yet. I think we’re all aware that this team needs at least a few upgrades at the trade deadline — perhaps a gritty, top-six forward, perhaps a more commanding, physical presence on the backline (hey, why not both?!)
But there have now been 48 games this season, so it’s no longer fair to say this team’s record is merely a reflection of a fast start. Maybe that’s still not enough to get it over the hump in the playoffs. But it’s still a better starting point than it’s had in the past.
Also, this is long overdue, but here’s the replay of last week’s video chat, which I was unable to post before.