It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Rangers have now run their winning streak to four games and are once again back in the top eight in the Eastern Conference going into the Christmas break. A 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers (who’d won four of five) was the best game in recent memory for a team that may be finally getting itself back on track.
Vinny Prospal lead the way on offense with two goals to break a fourteen game goalless drought that dated back to November 21st. Also chipping in goals were Chris Drury – his third in four games after going 19 without a goal – and Marian Gaborik, who scored his league leading 26th goal shorthanded.
Henrik Lundqvist continued his fine form with 33 stops on 34 attempts and now sports a .946 save percentage in the last ten games, to go along with a 1.80 goals against average. With the win – his 158th regular season victory – Lundqvist moved into sole possession of 5th amongst Rangers netminders, breaking a tie with Dave Kerr.
Not everything is peachy keen in Rangersland however. When asked about the play of Wade Redden since being a health scratch for two games, Tortorella replied “he’s had some good shifts, and he’s had some crappy shifts”. Erik Christensen – a healthy scratch last night – also didn’t draw much praise, with the head coach saying that the recently claimed 26 year old hadn’t seized his opportunity.
With the roster frozen until December 28th, the speculation is that the Rangers will look to add a seventh defenseman from Hartford, perhaps Ilkka Heikkinen. That likely means that Christensen will be sent down.
USA Hockey announced the roster for next week’s World Junior Championships and three Ranger prospects will be on the team together for the first time since the 80s. Erik Kreider, Ryan Bourque and Derek Stepan all earned the chance to play for Team USA.