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"Talking New York Rangers Hockey, since 2007"
New York, NY • United States • 23 Years Old • Male
You cannot beat them in a box.
You cannot beat them with a fox
You cannot beat them in a house
You cannot beat them with a mouse
You cannot beat them here or there.
You cannot beat them anywhere.
You cannot beat the Rangers, man.
You cannot beat them, Sid or Stamm.

-Paraphrase of Dr. Seuss

Ho hum. Another game, another win for the New York Rangers. It almost becomes boring to watch, seeing as the outcome is almost always the same.

Well, not really.

There is very little to complain about this team. They are scoring, defending, taking early leads, coming back late, scoring on all four lines. Overall, they have won 12 of their last 14, including games against very tough opponents. They sit in fourth in the conference, but actually hold the best record in the NHL, getting 1.4 points per game that puts them on pace for a 118 point season. So this blog will be about two underrated players, who have been silently spectacular, helping this team on their run of epic winning.

Artem Anisimov

The stats don't come close to telling the story of the season for the 23 year old Russian. Although he has only scored three times, Anisimov is on pace to improve greatly on his sophmore totals in assists and points from a year ago. Still, compared to his linemates, Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik, his numbers don't really stand out.

But if anything, Anisimov has been the glue that holds this line together. He is the biggest of the threesome, and has been excellent in battles for loose pucks. The cycle game runs through him, as Gaborik looks for empty space and Stepan is relied on to make the set up passes. On the rush, he has the size and skills to draw defenders, and often creates opportunities for his teammates because of his presence.

Those comparing his numbers (3-12-15) to those of struggling teammate Brandon Dubinsky (1-10-11) only have to watch a few minutes of Rangers hockey to see that Anisimov creates offense much more effectively, and rarely gives the puck away (two giveaways to Dubinsky's nine) or takes penalties (6 PIM to 47 for Dubinsky). He has done the dirty work for the glory line; an unforgiving job, no doubt, but an important one nonetheless.

Michael Sauer

There is a lot of flash on the Rangers defense. Dan Girardi is the popular pick for underrated player of the NHL, but that in and of itself takes him out of the running for flying under the radar. Meanwhile, there is an abundance of offensive talent with Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto, both in their second full season with the Rangers (Del Zotto spent his sophmore year in the AHL).

In all this, Michael Sauer gets lost in the shuffle. He has been on the ice for just six even strength goals against, despite logging almost 19 minutes a game on the second defensive pairing. So while, he may not coming flying in on offense, his defensive game is as sound as they come. He is tough, especially in defending his goalie and teammates. Meanwhile, he has the cleanest outlet pass of any Rangers defenseman, with just four giveaways, compared to 13, 13, and 26 respectively by Del Zotto, McDonagh, and Girardi.

For every flashy defenseman, there should be a solid defensive-minded one backing him up. He helped Ryan McDonagh break through last season, and now Michael Del Zotto is having a great comback year as his linemate. Coincidence? We think not. But don't expect any big publicity for Sauer, as he continues to do a solid job on the back end.

Results and Schedule
Tue Nov 29, 2011 FINAL PIT (3) - NYR (4)
Thu Dec 1, 2011 FINAL NYR (5) - CAR (3)
Sat Dec 3, 2011 FINAL NYR (4) - TBL (2)

Mon Dec 5, 2011 Maple Leafs Rangers 7:00 PM
Thu Dec 8, 2011 Lightning Rangers 7:00 PM
Sat Dec 10, 2011 Rangers Sabres 7:00 PM
Sun Dec 11, 2011 Panthers Rangers 7:30 PM

The Rangers have started December the right way, with two wins, looking to better the 9-2 record posted in November. This month, however, may pose a bigger challenge, as the club is scheduled to play 15 games over the month, including four this upcoming week. The good news is that the schedule continues to be soft, at least this week, in which three of four teams have losing records in the last 10 games. If the Rangers continue to beat weaker teams with ease, it will not only give them a better record, but more confidence to challenge the more talented teams in the NHL when the schedule gets tougher.

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below


Weekly Recap/Preview blogs at the start of every week
Opinion blogs at the end of every week

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December 5, 2011 8:58 AM ET | Delete
Guess I need to get more controversial, based on the lack of comments for 3 blogs.
December 5, 2011 9:32 AM ET | Delete
Just dont be so one sided man. Yeah the Rangers look really good right now. Maybe they will keep it up for the season, maybe not. To be honest I am impressed by this team and think they are for real, but something still stands out to me. Without the King I dont know how good this team really is. He is your best player by far and steals a lot of games. That is my concenr for this team
December 5, 2011 11:17 AM ET | Delete
Dont think it was one-sided, the opening was kind of tongue in cheek. If you have read my prior blogs you would see I am quick to point out this teams faults. That said, of late they have not been relying on Lundqvist, scoring 4 or 5 goals per game
December 5, 2011 11:25 AM ET | Delete
What's there to say, you give really good analyses- no arguing required.
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