In a season marred by mediocrity, the Rangers seemingly have a glimmer of hope in 2014. New York is 6-2-1 in the new year and has won ten out of their last fourteen games. The club is being led in large part by the leadership of Brad Richards, who is tied for the team lead in goals with twelve and in points with thirty-five. Mats Zuccarello has also performed superbly for the Blueshirts as he has also registered twelve goals on the season, which exceeds his career total coming into the season of eleven.
After sustaining a concussion in the beginning of the year, Rick Nash is back to being a formidable scoring force, which the Rangers need desperately, considering that they are twenty-fourth out of thirty teams in scoring thus far.
The Rangers also seem to have fallen into an impressive goaltending tandem. With Henrik Lundqvist struggling at times early on, rookie goaltender Cam Talbot stepped in and alleviated some of the pressure on Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. In twelve games, Talbot has registered a 9-3-0 record with a 1.66 goals against average. With Lundqvist beginning to find is game thus far in January (2.12 GAA), Vigneault has reliable options with both of his goaltenders.
New York sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and third place in the new Metropolitan division with 55 points. They play three out of their next six games against the Islanders, another team in the division that is surging. The regional rivalry as well as games against St. Louis, Washington and New Jersey will serve as a good litmus test for how far the team has come as we move into February and closer to the nearly three week Olympic break.
If Lundqvist continues his strong play, Nash and Richards continue to be forces and young players like Zuccarello and Chris Kreider (who leads the club in +/-) provide a spark offensively, the Rangers could continue their climb in the standings toward a playoff berth.