For the first two months of the 2014-15 season, the conversation coming out of the New York Rangers dressing room focused on their search for consistency. Injuries and illness, particularly on defense, made it difficult for the Rangers to play the way they want to play, meaning a low-risk, high-reward game built on speed through the neutral zone backed by superior goaltending.
Consistency, like the health of their defensemen, is no longer a problem. Watch the Rangers now and it looks like they're playing in fast forward. They're playing at a breakneck speed, particularly when they transition from defense to offense. The results have been staggering.
The Rangers have won five games in a row and 13 of their past 14 heading into their game against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Last week, the Rangers became the third team since 2000-01, and first since the Buffalo Sabres in 2011-12, to sweep the three California teams in the same season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
With a regulation win Tuesday, the Rangers can move within three points of first place in the Metropolitan Division; they were 12 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and Islanders on Dec. 8, when they defeated the Penguins in overtime to start their current hot streak.
Here are five reasons why the Rangers have found the consistency they were looking for in the first two months of the season: