Amidst all the poor sports play in New York lately, the New York Rangers have quietly won seven games in a row. The Rangers played a red hot Washington Capitals team at the garden last night that has been revamped and is a threat in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers beat them handily 4-2, only having to sweat when the Capitals made a late surge in the 3rd period to cut the rangers 3-0 lead to 3-2. The result never seemed to be in doubt, however, as the Rangers bombarded Washington with 27 shots on goal and did not take their foot off the gas pedal. Henrik Lundqvist made the big saves when he had to and held his own against an elite offense headed by Alexander Ovechkin, one of the league's top goal scorers.
In this seven game winning streak, the Rangers are starting to play like defending Eastern Conference Champions. Rick Nash, who a year ago at this time was being scrutinized for not being tough enough, has come to life and is on an absolute tear. He has 23 goals this season and is playing at an MVP type level. Everyone is contributing offensively, and that is helping out the goaltending, as Lundqvist does not need a shutout to win a contest. Guys like Martin St. Louis and Mats Zuccarello have returned to their Stanley Cup form from last year, and all of the sudden, the Rangers look like a legitimate threat in the East.
With an Islanders loss last night to the Montreal Canadiens, the Rangers find themselves only six points behind this year's cinderella team. Although the Islanders are much better than in recent years, it seems that the hockey powers are starting to align a bit more with this latest Rangers surge. The Rangers and Islanders play on January 13th and January 27th, two games which could be for bragging rights and create a lot of buzz around this city.
Next up: The Rangers have a nice long break until Saturday when they face their division rivals, the New Jersey Devils. This is a trap game for New York, as the Devils are struggling this year but always seem to put up a fight against the Blueshirts. With Rick Nash scoring at an elite pace and the the King stopping everything he faces between the pipes, there is no reason that this streak should end anytime soon for the Rangers. It has been a long time since teams had to really game plan for the Rangers offensive attack. Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis, and Mats Zuccarello have really improved the type of opportunities the Rangers get around the net. If they continue to perform like this against New Jersey, there is no reason that this streak shouldn't extend to eight wins in a row.