Perhaps everything’s going according to plan, and it merely is just coming together late enough to make people a little nervous?
Either way, the Rangers have now won three straight games after edging the comparably hungry Florida Panthers 5-4 in overtime tonight. There’s a larger trend of not-always-pretty but scrappy play, as they’re now 5-2-2 in their last nine games after a deeply discouraging 1-5-1 start to 2017-18.
While Alain Vigneault is likely breathing a sigh of relief after it looked like he was going from the frying pan to the fire as far as hot seats go, management must feel a touch vindicated to see a strong run from Shattenkirk. Tonight was maybe his best night of this run, as he scored two goals, including the overtime game-winner:
Shattenkirk took a “hometown discount” for stretches like these: he now has eight points (those two goals plus four assists) during a four-game point streak. They’ve been eventual bits of production, too, as he generated the primary assist on J.T. Miller‘s overtime-winner in Thursday’s 2-1 OT win against the Lightning:
The secondary assist went to (wait for it) Lundqvist. Now, the stupendous Swede isn’t shutting the door altogether each night, but that might just be the nature of the beast for this edition of the Rangers. Much like in 2016-17, this team may find themselves needing to win end-to-end thrillers, possibly forcing Lundqvist to take a Grant Fuhr-like demeanor.
(Perhaps you’d instead want to compare Lundqvist to an NFL cornerback who must adopt a mindset of letting that last deep bomb go.)
Now, it’s dangerous to get too excited if you’re a Rangers fan.
Even with this win, New York is currently ranked second-to-last in the viciously competitive Metropolitan Division, and the Rangers’ lead over last-ranked Carolina is deceptive. The Hurricanes have generated 10 points in 11 games as of this writing, while the Rangers have 14 … but in 15 regular-season games.
That was part of the reason why there was rebuild-on-the-fly talk, and there might be some again if the Rangers slip once more.
Vigneault & Co. still have a lot of work to do, but if nothing else, the Rangers saved some face, and possibly their season. For now?