The 2010-2011 Rangers bear a certain resemblance to a popular children’s story.
The Little Engine That Could in his shiny blue coat of paint embodies a message of the power of hard work coupled with belief in oneself. A small engine can accomplish big things if it tries hard enough. Or as Coach John Tortorella would say, “grind it out.”
But belief needs to be channeled into action and production which the Rangers so aptly did Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers and Friday against the Ottawa Senators. They outscored their vastly different opponents — one from the basement, one from the top — 11 to1. They played like the hardworking crew of the first quarters of the season that found ways to win despite endless broken bones and injuries down the roster — which continue to plague the team.
Following a four-game losing streak at home and four straight losses to the Broad Street Bullies, the Rangers had a mountain to climb. Led by their (future) captain Ryan Callahan they climbed a notch higher with a 7-0 victory over a first place squad. As the 82 game season continues to wind down, the seventh place Rangers’ must keep chugging away with only 14 games left and various opponents scratching at their backs.
The wheels that turn quietly yet timely will be critical to keep the Rangers from slowing to a standstill on offense: Erik Christensen, Sean Avery, Mats Zuccarello and Wojtek Wolski. They must pump beyond the role of spare parts consistently to push the Rangers to the end and beyond. The engine depends on them at different times in order to run most efficiently. Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan can’t do it alone. Brian Boyle and Marian Gaborik won’t always hit the net and Derek Stepan can’t always guarantee a clutch play. The return of the lively Vinny Prospal has injected a dose of offensive energy while the gritty Brandon Prust continues to “bring it.”
Christensen has been more noticeable on the ice. Avery is working behind the net. Zuccarello is back to putting up some points and Wolski has some flashy hands.
The Flyers blowout was more of a sentence. If the Rangers can string together another set of wins on their California road trip against the Sharks and Ducks, that will be a statement. The scoring must be kept alive, especially since the Rangers proved it can come from different avenues beside their Slovak sniper.
Fans will keep the buzz alive about their Rangers, “I think they can. I think they can.”
What matters most however is, do they think they can?
Notable Mention: The New Jersey Devils have officially raised my eyebrow and should be on the playoff radar. Impressive is an understatement to their run. They have nothing to lose. They’ve already hit rock bottom, so naturally they can only go up.
About the Author
Written by Margaret DeJesus
I'm a recent college graduate looking for a dream job covering hockey. I've been watching the New York Rangers since my grade school days of VHS and Gordon Bombay's "ducks fly together" speech. While studying journalism at Boston University (COM '10), I wrote for the Daily Free Press, the student newspaper. I worked two summers at the Staten Island Advance, my hometown newspaper, writing city news and features. I've also written CD reviews for Music-Reviewer.com. One of my favorite gigs was interning for hockey analyst extraordinaire Stan Fischler covering the Boston Bruins and attending all their home games in the 2009-2010 season. (Yes, including the crushing defeat against the Flyers in the Eastern Conference playoffs.)