During the first half of the season, we've implored this Rangers team to play harder and tougher. We recognized that the skill set is not there to hang with teams like the Penguins and Bruins. However, dedication and commitment to Alain Vigneault's system along with a strong work ethic should be enough to overcome these deficiencies.
And, according to Brad Richards, it seems like the Rangers have finally figured that out (via New York Post)…
“We’re not good enough to rely on talent because we haven’t shown we can score at will, like some teams do. So it has to be structure, it has to be a team game, four lines. When we rely on that, and stay with that, we usually give ourselves a good chance to win.”
…for some reason it all started clicking in the comeback shootout loss to the Penguins two weeks ago. Including that game, the Rangers are 4-2-1 in their last seven and seem to be skating harder, winning puck battles and more defensively sound.
…i'm not sure if the reward of a point in that Pens game for their resiliency made a light go on in their head or maybe it just took half the season for the Rangers to finally feel comfortable in AV's system, but I do know for the first time all season I'm enjoying this team. From Kreider standing up for Del Zotto in Tampa to Pouliot doing the dirty work for goals in front of the net, I'm getting a much greater sense of a commitment to team with the Rangers. And not shockingly, it has led to wins.