By: Joseph Hutter
The Rangers defeated the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 at MSG in their last game before the All-Star break. Henrik Lundqvist recorded his fifth shutout of the season and second in the last three games. The Rangers head into the break with an overall record of 31-12-4 (66 points) placing them first in the Eastern Conference.
Goaltending has been the backbone of the Rangers' success in the first half with both Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron putting up great numbers. Lundqvist currently ranks third in the league in both goals against average and save percentage, and Biron has more than adequately backed up Lundqvist so far, posting a 9-2-0 record along with a 1.88 goals against average and a .927 save percentage and 2 shutouts in his eleven starts.
The team has also played great defense throughout the first half of the season, something that John Tortorella seems to consistenly instill on his team. The Rangers rank third in the league in penalty kill percentage, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh are both in the top ten in blocked shots, and forwards and defensemen alike seem to sacrifice their bodies on a nightly basis by blocking shots and taking away opponents' scoring opportunities.
The scoring has been average so far, and is something that needs improvement in the second half of the season. Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, and Derek Stepan have done what is expected of them so far, but Brad Richards and Brandon Dubinsky must pick up their play in the second half if the Rangers want to advance deep into the playoffs. One of the things that has kept the offense afloat is secondary scoring from players like Carl Hagelin (8 goals), Artem Anisimov (7 goals), Ruslan Fedotenko (6 goals), and John Mitchell (5 goals); Three of Mitchell's goals came in his last five games. Defensive scoring from Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, and Ryan McDonagh provided the offense with some balance in the first half.
For now, Lundqvist, Girardi, and Gaborik should enjoy their trip to Ottawa while the rest of the team relaxes on their week off before they pick up where they left off.
Image by: Joseph Hutter