BOSTON — There’s five months and a full three-quarters of a season to go, if that makes sense, but the day after Thanksgiving the Rangers improved to 13-4-3, looking like a team all over the world who have to be taken seriously.
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Do you know why? Because they’ve grown into a resourceful team that can handle a huge amount of things at a time, even when things go bad, and they’ve become a team that knows how to win games.
The secret was revealed by head coach Gerard Gallant after Rangers’ 5-2 empty net win over the formidable Bruins on Friday, after the first period in which his team had previously led 17-3 for 19:53:
“Our goalkeeper,” said Gallant, laughing.
Igor Shesterkin, the party of the first part, was once again excellent, leading the Blueshirts during the opening period, which ended 1-1, you bet it happened, when Ryan Strom overcame Artemi Panarin’s clean relay. Changed to 19:54. Shesterkin’s overall savings percentage is .933. You bet elite goalscoring has been a big part of it.
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But there is much more to it. Team structure can be weak, but it rarely falls apart completely. There is a belief within the unit that the Rangers will think something up while Shesterkin keeps it close. There’s a relentlessness to the game of blueshirts. They’re not perfect, and they can fall, but there’s a lot of perseverance within this group and it’s generally been a staple ever since Gallant stepped out behind the bench.
Here’s also one that shouldn’t be forgotten: The Blueshirts matched the franchise’s third-best 20-game start in 50 seasons—the 2016–17 and 1972–73 teams also had 29 points at the time, while the 2015–16 And the 1971–72 squads compiled 32 points through 20 competitions – even though their most dangerous goal-scorer Mika Zibnejad has been vacated for nine straight games and has four goals (two on five-for-five). Huh. Season.
There’s some depth here, even though at first, second, and third glance, you wouldn’t go wrong listing the lack of depth as the Rangers’ biggest weakness. But the people who have been roped in in pivotal roles have given a great response. Yes, we are talking about Julian Gauthier and Dryden Hunt.
Of course, the Gallant team plays no small role. So far no small player is trying to fill them.
“I think this is what everybody is buying into,” said Strom, who had a dandy game that included a sweet cross-ice feed, hitting Gauthier’s 3-2 tie-breaker at Panarin’s 3-2 tie-breaker at 11:35 of the third period. The Nifty was before the setup, the ability of the team to take water without being submerged. “I think these guys are realizing that not every innings is going to be an offensive innings and if you get caught on the blue line you have to change and live another day and let the next line do its job. .
“I think we’ve done a great job of sticking to our framework and trusting each other. There were changes in that [first] That period where we didn’t really touch the puck much but it was a tie game.”
Hunt, who was originally pegged as a fourth-liner, now has a spot in the unit alongside Strom and Panarin, who had scored in only one of the previous nine competitions. Gauthier, a healthy scratch at times, now has a spot in the third row alongside Alexis Lafreniere and Philippe Chitill.
It was Hunt who went over the net to make a rebound at home from a Ryan Lindgren blast, scoring 2–2 at 12:33 for the second time after Patrice Bergeron gave B his second lead. . The game at 6:51 when left alone in the face of coverage confusion after a clean defensive-field faceoff loss.
Rangers may not have enough recognizable top-six or top-nine forwards, and of course general manager Chris Drury is looking for one or two, but suddenly, almost, he has scored 22 goals at five-on-one. Five of his last seven matches, including four in this one.
Strom described Hunt as a “dog-on-the-bones type player”. The Rangers, with enough finesse to flourish in their game, are becoming that kind of team, again – sitting 13-4-3.
“I would say it’s a good feeling but I also think it’s a group that’s not satisfied,” Strom said. “I think we’re starting to feel like a winning team. I think we’ve got a different feel for our team.
“The important thing for us is continuing to build. It’s so easy to get complacent in this league where things can turn a dime for you. But Turkey [Gallant] Stays very honest, pushing us in and out at night until the end of the game. It’s going to take it by the end of the year. ,