How Not to Tank: The New York Rangers

By Patrick Hoffman

When the New York Rangers threw up the white flag back in mid February with that letter to their fans, many figured that the team was giving up and would focus on getting a high draft pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft.

While the Rangers have not exactly gotten hot or anything like that, the team certainly is not losing with the frequency that is needed to secure a top draft pick. In fact, the team has not shown any signs of quitting even though the chances of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs are all but non-existent at this point.

As of this writing (March 19, 2018), the Rangers are 5-2-3 in their last 10 games. What's more amazing is in late February through the first week of March, the team went ahead and swept Western Canada with wins against the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers.

That trip would have been much different, but Henrik Lundqvist decided to stand on his head. Heck, he made over 50 saves in the club's wins over the Canucks and Flames, games that the Rangers should have never won.

The team also did not do themselves any favors from March 10th through March 17th. In that stretch, the Blueshirts managed to beat the Carolina Hurricanes, had a thrilling comeback victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and lost in overtime to the St. Louis Blues.

It is apparent that many of the players did not get the memo about taking it easy until the rest of the season. Players like Mats Zuccarello (15 goals and 34 assists for 49 points), Mika Zibanejad (24 goals and 18 assists for 42 points), Pavel Buchnevich (14 goals and 27 assists for 41 points), Kevin Hayes (20 goals and 16 assists for 36 points), Chris Kreider (13 goals and 19 assists for 32 points) and newcomer Ryan Spooner 92 goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 10 games) have all played well. 

In fact, it could be said that the team's offense has been a lot more formidable since the trade deadline. The team is currently 17th in the league with 205 goals in 72 games, which is good for an average of just 2.85 goals for per game.

It also does not help that their rookie goaltender, 22-year-old Alexandar Georgiev, has come in and played surprisingly well. Since taking over the "back-up" position for injured Ondrej Pavelec, Georgiev has gone 3-2-1 with a 2.94 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.

Georgiev's strong play has come as a surprise. This team's defense is all kinds of awful and yet, he is stopping 92 percent of the shots he faces, which is very impressive.

It was not supposed to be this way, folks. The Rangers were supposed to go down in flames and were supposed to better their position for the upcoming draft.

Instead, the Rangers are currently screwing up that notion and should they keep playing this way, will probably screw it up even further.

Good job, Rangers!

Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.caKukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

For comments and hip checks, feel free to contact Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com or on Twitter at @pathoffman35.