The New York Rangers hockey franchise will be one of the major winners from the National Hockey League’s recent realignment if things keep going for the team. With the conference shake-up for the 2013-14 season, the Rangers, in the Metropolitan Division, could essentially steal a playoff spot from a
better performing more deserving Atlantic Division club.
Take a look at the standings before you grab your torch and pitchfork, Rangers fans.
New York is playing.500 hockey, with 9 wins and 9 losses, good enough for third in the Metropolitan Division, since the Rangers have more wins than the Carolina Hurricanes. With the realignment, the top three teams in each division get an automatic playoff berth and the two clubs with the most points after that nab the wild card spots. In a more meritocratic playoff system, which seemed to be a goal of realignment, the New York Rangers would barely take the lowest wildcard berth.
Now, things are looking up for the Rangers lately, with goalie Henrik Lundqvist turning his game around. But New York is missing the scoring of Rick Nash, who ranked in the top 10 for goals scored in the shortened 2012-13 season. New York has been without Nash’s services since his concussion suffered October 8 in the 9-2 pounding the Rangers endured at the hands of the San Jose Sharks. Nash practiced with the Rangers Wednesday, but New York coach Alain Vigneault, replacement for the ousted John Tortorella, will not set a timetable for his return.
In his absence, the Rangers have still found a way to win games, however, and New York is doing it the old-fashioned way, according to Barry Melrose.
“The New York Rangers got things going again by going back to the basics and going back to what they do well: defense and goaltending,” Melrose said.
“Yes, Alain Vigneault wants to have a more up-tempo offense, he wants to be a little bit more creative, a little but more imaginative this year,” ESPN’s top hockey analyst added, “[but] without Nash, right now they just don’t have those types of offensive players, so revert back to what you do well: stop the other team from scoring.”
Who can argue with John Madden-like logic like that? If New York prevents their opponents from scoring as often, the Rangers don’t need to score as many goals.
What can the New York Rangers do to improve their game? Will New York make the playoffs? How far can the Rangers get without Nash?