Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 12/4/11

Going into the 2011-12 NHL campaign, not many knew what to expect of the New York Rangers. Sure, the team had signed highly-coveted free agent Brad Richards to a nine-year deal, made Ryan Callahan the team captain and partly renovated Madison Square Garden. Other than that, the team was somewhat of a question mark.
As we enter December, pundits are no longer wondering about the Blueshirts.

The Rangers are currently 15-5-3, second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. There are several reasons why the Rangers have been successful this season so far. For starters, they have shown some offensive depth this season.

While Marian Gaborik (12-9-21) and Richards (10-12-22) are leading the club in scoring, other players have stepped up for the team to provide offense this season. Team captain Ryan Callahan (10-8-18), Artem Anisimov (3-12-15), and Derek Stepan (5-10-15) have done their share of the offensive work to give the Blueshirts some balanced scoring.
Secondly, the team is also getting a great performance out of their blue line without injured defenseman Marc Staal. Dan Girardi (3-9-12) leads the league in average ice time per game (27:43) while providing his usual steady play. Ryan McDonagh (4-9-13) has also stepped up his game in a big way for his hockey club with a plus-12 rating.

As always, the team is also getting great goaltending from both Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron.

Lundqvist is once again showing that he is one of the best netminders in the National Hockey League with a 11-4-3 record, a 2.10 goals against average, a .932 save percentage and two shutouts. Biron, the club's back-up netminder, has been just as good for the Blueshirts this season. Biron is 4-1 with a 1.94 goals against average, a .930 save percentage and one shutout.

Ironically, the team really took off when Sean Avery was recalled from the AHL. Since Nov. 1, the day Avery was called up, the Rangers are a staggering 11-2-0. In recent seasons, Avery has had a positive influence on the Blueshirts despite his antics.

While there is still a lot of hockey left to be played, the Blueshirts -- winners of five straight -- have definitely shown that they are the real deal this season.

Photo credit: Getty Images
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