Originally written on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 11/19/14

By Alexander Monaghan
President 

Last night, the New York Rangers proved they can stand up to the so-called elite. Their 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins was broadcast on Versus for the entire country to see, putting the team in the spotlight for perhaps the first time since the mid-90s. While Versus, and NHL on NBC for that matter, have pushed the big-market Rangers on hockey viewers for years, this instances is one of the few where the team deserved the honor. Then again, last night was Sidney Crosby‘s fifth game of the season and any game he plays in remains the game to watch; somehow they chose an ISO cam on him over the coaching debuts of Dale Hunter and Kirk Muller.

Anyways, the win had it all. It had penalty kills, power plays, late surges, fights, Matt Cooke AND Sean Avery not to mention a few controversial goals. The end result was the Rangers coming away with a regulation win over a team that only sits three points above them with four games in hand. At the quarter point of the season, the Blueshirts have only 21 games in the books, tying the San Jose Sharks with the lowest games played in the League.

Following the victory, alternate captain Brad Richards stopped short of calling the team elite. See the video for yourself, courtesy of BlueShirts United.

Henrik Lundqvist‘s comments were more of the same. Yes, they acknowledge their current success but at the same time they know they still have another 61 games to play at this level in order to make the playoffs. That mentality is exactly what turned this team from an up-and-coming team to a playoff team last season and what will propel them into a true contender.

Let’s fast forward for a second. We just called the Rangers a team — a term you would not describe them during the pre-lockout era and you would cringe to say during the Jagr/Renney years. GM Glen Sather failed to create a ‘team’ which had players in their roles and featured a good mix of young and old. Nowadays, the team under fiery coach John Tortorella, has earned that distinction through and through.

Their captain Ryan Callahan is homegrown, as is the impressive young back-end of Dan Girardi, Michael Sauer, Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal. Ryan McDonagh never played a game with another organization despite being a first rounder of the Montreal Canadiens. Offensive weapons Derek Stepan, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and rookie Carl Hagelin all were drafted and groomed in the system as well. Needless to say, the team also stole Lundqvist as the 205th overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

These homegrown skaters coupled with elite talent like Richards and Marian Gaborik have created a strong, winning environment on Broadway — one that has not existed since Mark Messier came from Edmonton.

Statistically, this team has been among the elite as well. Their goal plus-14 goal differential is higher than only the Pens, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Does that rank among the elite? Yes it doesn and it’s no mirage as they finished last year with an equally impressive plus-35 rating. In addition, they rank first in goals allowed with 44, leading those same Bruins by two tallies. And while their offense may be on the lower end of the pack, they’ve scored three-or-more goals in seven of 11 November contests.

Experts like Rob Vollman of Puck Prospectus labeled the Rangers as lucky due to a smattering of metrics. They claim Lundqvist’s save percentage is unsustainable and the team’s lack of offense will come back to hurt them. While that was true on November 15th, their corsi percentage — a ratio which measures the shot differentials — was 44.8 percent at the time and a better 46.9 percent over the past month. We understand there is still a need for improvement but it certainly is not 27th in the League anymore. A continuation of their added pressure will make the advanced stats align to their current play.

This team, as currently compiled passes the eye test. They’ve defeated tougher foes like the Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals in each their last three games. You can also add the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks to their resume. They have the star power and mix of grit, skill and make-up to be the next big team in this League. All they need now is some recognition.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao close to deal for fight

TJ Lang: Suh wanted to fight me after stepping on Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Hernandez jurors allowed to watch Super Bowl

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate during presser

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

Bill Belichick gives understated scouting report of Tom Brady

WATCH: Jimmy Butler throws down half-court alley-oop

President Obama zings Patriots over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's Player Of The Year candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots-Seahawks

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Most unexpected MLB free agent signings of past 10 years

Five most villainous Super Bowls of all time

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

Foster says UT boosters paid him $40-50K while in college

Ranking the repeat Super Bowl champions

Eric Decker to Sherman: Time your conception a little better

Could Katy Perry and Russell Wilson be dating?

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

LeBron and the Cavs are ready to make a run

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.