Rangers Take Over Top Spot In ESPN Power Rankings

The ESPN NHL Power Rankings are out and the Rangers have taken over the #1 spot this week.  Burnside:

No Winter Classic hangover for the Rangers as they’ve won both games since their outdoor win. The Rangers have just one loss in their past 10 games, earning head coach John Tortorella a trip to the All-Star Game in Ottawa and guaranteeing earmuffs for the kids.

First of all, I can’t decide whether I find the earmuffs comment dated or retro funny.  I’m leaning toward the former, because Scott Burnside strikes me as the kind of guy that just saw Old School like last week.

Secondly, I don’t know that the Rangers are the best team in the league when you look at the whole picture, but I do think they’re very much in the discussion.  Their blue line has been ravaged by injury this year, which really showcases both their depth (Timmy Erixon and Stu Bickel) and their ability to make a couple of key, low salary strategic signings/pick-ups (Woywitka and Stralman).  Dubi’s production is finally picking up, which, as Carp has said a number of times, is like trading for a 20-goal scorer mid-season.

The key for them is Staal’s continued recovery, so that Girardi and McDonagh’s minutes can come down a bit (there’s a nice post here on Blueshirt Banter about Staal coming back and easing the burden on the top pair).  We hear a lot about how the Rangers can’t take their foot off the gas or have a letdown in these middle months, because the points are important.  That’s obviously true, and it’s true every season, but you really want to make sure that you’re winning the ones that you’re supposed to win.  That’s something that ALWAYS haunted this team.  Those letdowns against clubs like Columbus and Edmonton and Tampa.  There are going to be nights that they’re going to lose, but as long as their not being outworked, I think we can all live with the occasional loss.

Some numbers:

+34:  Goal differential
15.3:  Power Play% (20th in the league)
86.8:  Penalty Kill% (6th in the league)
1.89:  Hank’s GAA

Those are some good looking numbers, except for the Power Play.  Definitely want to see that number creep up, because it’ll need to for them to stay at the top of the standings.

Seeing the Devils keep hanging around the top-10 makes me nervous.  I think the Rangers are more talented and work harder, but I prefer the Devils to be further back in the rearview mirror.  I think they’re well-coached and have two top talents that are beginning to pick up steam as well


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