Apologies for the lack of updates in these last few exciting days of the regular season. Honestly it's been a little tough to get time to write. I debated, and honestly the decision is mostly due to time constraints on my side, on whether to do a full Rangers regular season review now or to wrap up the entire season when it does in fact end, and my choice is the latter. I will, for today, just focus on a few key stats and some comments that have been on my mind, but it will not be one big cohesive wrap up, at least not yet.
So if it all ends up being one mish-mosh of entries after the Rangers eventually fall from the playoffs (sooner or later), then so be it. If you are reading this blog, you've probably become used to some disorganization and rambling anyway. ;) So the season in review will be an entire season in review, probably done in more than one part and probably, knowing the pattern here at NHTP, more of a review of generalities than statistics.
But in the meantime, just a few final thoughts. I think it's important the Rangers ended their season on a good note. We sadly saw coming out of the lockout how a great team - and my favorite Rangers team in a long time - stumbled into the playoffs failing to get the minimal point necessary to win the division and fell straight out of the competition in four games. So don't underestimate the importance of going into the playoffs on a good note. And the way the Rangers played today, coming back three times to tie Philadelphia before taking the lead, scoring on both the PP and the PK, and standing up to the rough stuff, was very positive in many regards.
Some other interesting stats. It was pointed out to me that the Rangers had more wins at Madison Square Garden this season (26-11-4) than any years since 1993-1994 (28-8-6). Even though there were some pretty bad years in there, I was still surprised to read that.
And big kudos to Hank on his career high 38 wins, another stat that surprised me. Mostly because the team, at long, long stretches of this season, played so badly. And because, Hank himself was so often hung out to dry. This season was not really his best numbers wise (last year his GAA and Save% were better and he had 10 shutouts, to start). But I believe the end game, the wins, is testament to him standing up through the different systems the Rangers had this year, the team on a whole, and yes, like them or not, all those boring 2-1 wins, and all those shootout wins as well. Either way, kudos to Hank. Very impressive. He may never be the best goalie in the league, but he is certainly one of the best and the one I'd most like on my team, hands down.
Now just a look at one more regular season final stat.
Antropov - 28
Naslund - 24
Zherdev - 23
Drury - 22
Callahan - 22
Now, ignore Antropov's numbers, because in all honestly they did not all come in New York. Look at those leaders. As much as everyone got on Markus Naslud and Nikolai Zherdev at many times this season, really, stop and ask yourself where this team would be without those goals. Could they have played better all around every game, could they have stepped up their effort and not taken games off? Yes, and yes. But look at the whole team and think of how many players didn't take games off and didn't step up their efforts at all moments. There are few - perhaps three - the same three I've been alluding to all season. So ignoring those three guys (for the moment)ask yourself whether either guy was really a bad move. I think there are other guys - and oh how part of me wishes I could jump in right now and talk about them for the next hour - that deserve more criticism than these two. Also, and very important to note, it was guys like Zherdev and Naslund, both natural goal scorers, that got a lot of those important goals in late minutes of the game, to either tie the game or win the game. Want to know who helped pad those win totals for the Rangers this year besides Hank? On the offensive side, look no further than these two.
I am not defending anyone's lack of effort on this Rangers team. In fact, because of it I am perhaps a little more than surprised that I am here right now NOT typing the season in review entry and that the Rangers are, indeed, going to the playoffs. BUT - but - that doesn't mean that I can't look at the players on this team a little differently than others may have. Zherdev and Naslund were NOT the problems on this years team. Not even close!
**Sorry, I didn't mean to go there now. But if you liked the above rant, that is what you'll definitely get more of when the season finally does come to an end and there is time to reflect back on the season, on a whole.**
Let's get back on track here. Overall, regardless of all the details and drama, the Rangers did make the playoffs. They and the New Jersey Devils are the only two teams in the Eastern Conference to have made the playoffs in all four years post-lockout. That deserves big kudos right there.
And now that a brand new season - the second season - begins, I am looking forward to seeing what the team can do. It won't be easy, but I think the Washington/Rangers series will be very, very entertaining. I hope for a ton of goal scoring, and games to remember for a long time. And to see AO in the playoffs live, that should be truly amazing.