Ranking the 5 Best Moments from New York Rangers' 2013-14 Season so Far
It's been an up-and-down season for the Blueshirts. After a disastrous October, a decent November, a putrid December and a scorching January, the Rangers find themselves second in the Metropolitan Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers entered the Olympic break winners of five of their last six. And on their march to the top of the standings, there have certainly been a number of truly memorable moments.
But which are the top five moments from the season so far?
We'll do the work for you, looking at the moments and victories that have truly defined this season.
Read on to find out what they are.
Honorable Mention: Victory Over Minnesota
A late December game against Minnesota? There can't be anything too special about that.
Oh, but there is. The 4-1 victory over the Wild was the start of the Rangers' hot streak.
Headed into the game, the Rangers were 2-5-2 in their previous nine games. They were quickly playing themselves into oblivion.
But for some reason, this game was the turning point. They found their current line combinations and played with energy and purpose. Cam Talbot was dominant, stopping 24 shots, and four different players scored goals.
“Probably our best game all year when it comes to playing a full 60 minutes and everyone contributing and just spending a lot of time in their zone,” Carl Hagelin told Katie Strang of ESPN.
It was this game where everything seemed to click. After this game, the Rangers went on a tear, going 15-6-1.
It's not one of the top best moments, since nothing really extraordinary happened. But it deserves honorable mention because if the Rangers make the playoffs and go on a run, they can look to this game as the impetus.
5. Overtime Win Against Detroit
Remember when the Rangers started the season 3-7 on their season-opening road trip?
Things were looking pretty bad. The Rangers' defense was abysmal, Henrik Lundqvist was out of sorts, and the team couldn't score.
The team finished the road trip in Detroit and were in dire need of a win.
After falling down 2-1, Mats Zuccarello scored his first goal of the season in the third period to tie it up.
In overtime, Benoit Pouliot found Derick Brassard streaking down the middle for the game-winning goal.
This game salvaged one of the worst road trips in Rangers history. And after this game, the Rangers won six of their next eight.
4. Chris Kreider's Hat Trick Against Vancouver
Chris Kreider spent all of last season in John Tortorella's doghouse.
In 23 games, Kreider averaged just 10 minutes of play, rarely elevating above the fourth line. He is not well suited for that kind of role.
However, this season has been his breakout year, as he has 30 points in 52 games at the break.
And if the season has been a breakout one, then a November game against Tortorella's Vancouver Canucks was his breakout game.
Kreider scored three goals—his first career hat trick—in a 5-2 victory over the Canucks.
Kreider made sure not to disparage Tortorella after the game, but given that he jumped into the glass after his first goal, it was clear that this game meant a little more.
Regardless, this was the best performance by one of the best offensive players for the Rangers.
3. Beat Down on Toronto
For a team that struggled to score for the past few years, the Rangers showed what they could do against Toronto on January 4.
The Rangers beat the Maple Leafs 7-1 in a game that wasn't even that close.
Dominic Moore scored two goals, while Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Benoit Pouliot, Marc Staal and Brian Boyle all added a tally.
All but three players on the roster notched a point.
"We had to finish strong," Cam Talbot told NHL.com. "We came out flying tonight. The guys got the first goal and never looked back. We played sound defensively as well. Tonight we took care of both ends [of the ice], and that's why we got the result we did."
It was one of the most complete games for the Rangers all season, showing that the offensively challenged teams of the past few years are a thing of the past.
2. Win in Chicago
It is not easy going into Chicago and winning a game.
After all, the Blackhawks have only lost in regulation four times at home this season.
One of those losses was to the New York Rangers.
The Rangers came in and gritted out a 3-2 victory. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 35 shots, while Carl Hagelin scored the game-winning goal.
"We worked so hard, so this is a big one for us," Henrik Lundqvist told the AP (via ESPN). "Playing such a good team and the position we're in, we're desperate for points and wins, so just a great feeling the way we played and got rewarded in the end with that big goal."
This was probably the Rangers' best win of the season. Chicago is a Cup contender, and the fact that the Rangers played them evenly in their own barn gave fans a lot of confidence about their team.
1. Stadium Series
In the first game, Mats Zuccarello scored twice, while Derek Stepan, Rick Nash, Dominic Moore, Carl Hagelin and Marc Staal joined in on the fun. Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves.
In the second game against the Islanders, Lundqvist was sensational, stopping 30 shots, while Benoit Pouliot and Daniel Carcillo supplied the offense.
"That's like the highlight of my career so far," Derick Brassard told Katie Strang of ESPN. "Just to play here. I think when both teams come out of the tunnel, I think that's when you realize that it's awesome. You share the passion of the game with so many people. The game meant something."
Besides securing the two victories, it was a grand spectacle. Seeing a hockey game in the middle of Yankee Stadium was a thrill for hockey and baseball fans alike.
No matter how the rest of the season plays out, fans will look back on the Stadium Series games as the most memorable.