With some free time over the next few days I want to take a look at the season thus far for the Rangers and Coyotes. Lets start with New York.
After a seven game winning streak spoiled Ranger fans everywhere, the Blueshirts have been brought back to reality as they have gone 5-9-1 since that point with injuries to Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky being apart of the problem.
Some rough defensive play and a lack of scoring outside Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal has made the Rangers tough to watch lately.
However due to my positive nature on this season, I am going to try and keep it to those. Starting with Gaborik and Prospal, the two of them have formed a great chemistry and are among the leaders in the NHL in scoring. Coming into tonight's contest Gaborik is tied for first in the NHL in goals with 18. San Jose's Dany Heatley also has 18. Gaborik is tied for second in total points, just one point behind Anze Kopitar who has 33 points...but in three more games played. Gaborik is the league leader in points per game.
Vinny Prospal has come in and put up 24 points next to Marian Gaborik. The veteran pivot has provided a solid anchor which New York's newest superstar has been able to launch from. His passing abilities are great while his shot is very underrated. There are some points where I wish he would shoot more but as long as he keeps putting up points, it does not matter.
On the back end, my two personal favorites have been rookies Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto.
Del Zotto was rookie of the month for October as he got off to a hot start and was named the power play quarterback for the Rangers' top unit at just 19 years old. With 16 points, Del Zotto is showing his offensive prowess from the blueline with 5 goals and 11 assists so far. His passing is almost unbelievable for someone as young as he is. Almost every pass off his stick gets to the other player's right on the tape. His defensive play, which was the biggest concern coming into the season, has been a surprise as well as his physicality. If he keeps going at this pace, he will definitely be in every conversation when it comes to rookie of the year.
Matt Gilroy has come in and been a solid defenseman. He was brought in because of his offensive abilities but has not gotten on the scoresheet as much as he probably wants to, just three goals and two assists in 23 games. Yet his skating and defensive play has shown he is more than capable of being a NHL player. Being solid in his normal duties has given him confidence and he will only get better. His offense will come as he develops more and understands the professional game fully.
The Rangers do have a lot of work to do and their schedule does not make that easy. A short road trip starting tonight in Sunrise, Florida heads to Tampa Bay and then Pittsburgh. Chris Drury is expected to return tonight after getting a concussion in the game against Calgary. Having him back will help solidify the center position and hopefully get this team more faceoff wins, which has been making it hard for the Rangers to control the puck more.
The standings in the east are tight as usual with spots 4 through 13 within six points of each other. Every game counts now in the grind of the season and a big matchup like tonight's against the Panthers will go a long way in determining how the Rangers will end up this season. They broke their offensive woes against Columbus the other night but need to come out tonight and show that it was not a fluke.