After starting the year near the bottom of the standings in the Eastern Conference, New York has started to turn things around in the midst of their current rebuild. Even more impressive is the way the blueshirts have been generating their success. So what exactly is driving their current 7-game point streak?
Well, it stems from Henrik Lundqvist. The former Vezina Trophy winner has been playing with a major chip on his shoulder this season after being criticized for not letting the Rangers part ways with his contract. After making it clear that he wants to remain in Manhattan for what appears to be the last stretch of his career, MSG has been rocking as of late and so has Hank.
In Lundqvist’s last five starts he is 4-0-1 with a 2.20 GAA and a .933 SV%. He has been playing stellar in between the pipes and has been one of the biggest reasons the Rangers have won six of their last seven games while claiming a point in their only loss.
New York has been getting scoring from their youngsters as well, as Brett Howden now has 10 points (4G, 6A) on the year and defenseman Neal Pionk has 10 points (3G, 7A) of his own. Veteran forwards have also been chipping in and Mika Zibanejad has five points in his last five contests, giving him a team high 15 points in 2018-19.
On the blueline, Brady Skjei is proving that his offseason contract was worth the price. He currently leads New York defense in TOI with 22:03 minutes per game and has been given the role of shutting down the opponents top lines. He is a smart, puck moving asset on the back end and has seen his fair share of special team’s shifts early on this season.
Now, the winning streak has been fun to watch, but is it sustainable long term? New York has won 3 of their 6 games during the winning streak in a shootout and are 4-0 in the skills competition this season. Scoring has usually been the issue with the Rangers over the past several years and they cannot continue to rely on Lundqvist each night. David Quinn has been able to manage this young roster very well in the first month of the year, but it will be very interesting to see if this one-goal streak continues.
The Rangers look to extend their point streak to eight games Thursday night in Brooklyn as they face-off with their cross-town rival. The Islanders have been another surprising team so far after both teams were written off in September.
I doubt either team will be playing late into April, but the Big Apple has been red-hot on both sides of the island and it has been really fun to watch.