"...For the first time in more than a decade -- back when there were "only" 26 teams -- it appears at least possible that all six clubs will qualify for the Stanley Cup tournament. Since then, the Canadiens, Rangers, Leafs, Bruins and Hawks have missed postseason play a collective 28 times. Only the mighty Wings, with three Stanley Cup victories over that span, have managed to maintain a level of top-notch quality.
The damage to the reputations of those teams has been significant, as has been the damage to the league's profile, particularly at playoff time, when major markets are missing. Clearly, there's value to the teams and the league when the Original Six clubs are successful; and, right now, five of the six, excluding the wobbly Leafs, are having what they would term successful seasons..."
Cox assesses the Rangers chances here:
HENRI RICHARD RATING: Five out of five.
New York Rangers - It's all looking good for the Blueshirts, hockey's best defensive team, right now. It doesn't seem to matter that the team's two big-name free agents, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, essentially have been offensive busts, or that the blue line lacks an elite offensive-minded defender. Henrik Lundqvist is looking like the next Martin Brodeur, and Brodeur's still playing across the river.
The Rangers are tied for the Atlantic Division lead, but there are land mines ahead. Sean Avery is looking like a leader now, but that could change. Jaromir Jagr is struggling through a so-so season. Three teams the Rangers have to face repeatedly -- Buffalo, Pittsburgh and New Jersey -- still are recovering from weak starts and are almost certain to play better.
So, let's not give the Rangers a playoff invitation just yet.
...for any hockey enthusiast it is always great to see the 'Original Six' playing well. Its been especially sad to see the decline of the Bruins and Blackhawks over the last decade or so.
...I completely agree with Cox that for the NHL to do well these teams must be successful.
...on a side note, why is Cox comparing Lundqvist to Brodeur they are two completely different goalies.