Jun 13, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) chases after the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the first overtime period in game five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
When Alain Vigneault took over as coach of the New York Rangers, observers wondered if he’d punch up the offense. At least, punch it up relative to John Tortorella’s ultra-defensive style. That might mean going all-in for some offense, sort of like the Toronto Maple Leafs tend to do.
The Rangers sported a sparkling 52.4% Corsi rate, ranking 7th in the league in possession percentage. In fact, 18 of the 23 Rangers who played at least 100 minutes last season registered positive Corsi scores.
By ranking with the NHL elite in puck possession, it’s simple to explain the success of the Rangers. Control the puck, make the playoffs. Give the puck away, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, find yourself on the outside looking in.
Jun 11, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) puts on his mask before game four of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
No question, the Toronto Maple Leafs plucked a gem from the LA Kings when they acquired Jonathan Bernier. But the talented Bernier is no Henrik Lundqvist.
The stylish Swede has experienced success at every level. And, just in case you weren’t feeling inadequate yet, Lundqvist was ranked 3rd best dressed athlete by GQ magazine last year.
Most importantly, Henrik Lundqvist fought through an early-season slump to post a goals-saved-above-average (GSAA) of 11.96, ranking 10th in the league. More impressively, Lundqvist played more minutes than any of the nine goalies ahead of him in GSAA.
With an all-star netminder in place, the New York Rangers are a contender in any year, regardless of the skaters skating in front of the King.
Act Like You’ve Been There Before…
During their playoff run last season, the Rangers joined “Beard-a-Thon,” raising funds for their Garden of Dreams Foundation.
Why mention this? Simply put, the Rangers have enjoyed enough recent playoff success that their fundraisers are focused on playoff performances, not golf tournaments like the Toronto Maple Leafs. With Lundqvist, Cup-winner Martin St. Louis, and a bunch of newly playoff tested skaters, the NY Rangers have the playoff experience needed to support another post-season run.