The Rangers have surpassed the halfway point of the season totaling 44 games as they headed into this past weekend’s All-Star Break. Currently, they sit 3rd in the Metropolitan Division with 58 points and have a few games in hand on most of their opponents. It has been a bumpy road for the Rangers, especially early when injuries hampered chemistry and overall performance, leading to a flat start. However, by mid-December the Rangers were ready and went on a tear, winning 16 out of 19, bringing us to today. There have been a few players who have stepped up to really add a punch to the team. Here they are:
3. JT Miller/Kevin Hayes
I put these 2 players together because they are both young and really starting to come into their own. Hayes, you either notice him on every shift or forget he was even in the lineup depending upon the game. He has the ability to be a really skilled forward with his big body and good hands/shot. It is his first taste of the NHL and with time, I think he will become a more consistent player. Miller, on the other hand, has been very impressive. I says this because I had given up on him last year when he was completely invisible after numerous call-ups. He seems determined this year and has recently stuck within the lineup while being a contributing factor. Going forward, fans can expect to see more and more from these players and that can only be a good thing for the Rangers.
2. Kevin Klein
What a season the Kitchener, ON native is having, probably the best of his career. Klein was already a win considering he was traded for Michael Del Zotto, who somehow still got Philadelphia to pay him over a million bucks to play hockey….or at least try to. Meanwhile, Klein has 8 goals and 9 assists which leads the Rangers defense right now. He has stepped up to play 2nd line minutes on the back-end with a regular 18 minutes a night. The other big stat is the plus-15 rating Klein has, which is a testament to his good play. If Klein can continue to be an impactful Rangers defensemen, they could be very strong headed into the pre-playoff months.
1. Rick Nash
Nash isn’t really a surprise, but more of a statement. There is no doubt he has been a major impact on the Rangers but come on, admit it, most didn’t think he would be this dominant. With 43 points, 28 of them being some sweet sweet goals, Nash has been the Rangers best player this season. He has looked very good with Derrick Brassard, jumpstarting the Rangers offense together on that 1st line. Nash is on this list mainly because last year was not his best after a concussion. He trained hard this summer and came back to be the power forward the Rangers expected. The team has followed that leadership on the ice and it has transitioned into recent success. Nash deserved his All-Star choice and I don’t see him stopping his dominance this season.
The Rangers have been very enjoyable to watch these past few months and these players above are definitely helping that. There is still work to be done as they are nowhere near in a safe playoff spot with 2 months still remaining. The last 35 games will be fast-paced and have a playoff intensity that carried the Rangers very far last year. You just never know what can happen in the playoffs when you go in hot. Enjoy the 2nd half folks!