Monday, January 30, 2012

Rangers Roll Continues into Second Half While Improved Devils are Broke

The second half of the NHL season is underway and it looks as if the New York Rangers will not be going away any time soon on their roll towards the playoffs as one of the top seeds.

The Rangers had a NHL betting record of 31-12-1-3 and had one of the stingiest defenses in hockey as they ranked 2nd in goals against. The Broadway Blueshirts defense has long been the strength of the team led by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s 22-14-5 record with a 1.87 goals against average and 5 shutouts. Martin Biron had a 1.71 goals against average in a most helpful backup role with a 9-2-2 record and 2 shutouts.

The big surprise and improvement for the Rangers has been their offense, which was borderline anemic for the past few seasons and the reason that they could not be considered a true contender. The Rangers are ranked 11th in the NHL for goal scoring and were led by right wing Marian Gaborik’s 25 goals with 14 assists. Fellow right winger Ryan Callahan had 17 goals and 19 assists while center Brad Richards had 16 goals and 17 assists.

The Rangers were equally effective at home and on the road as they were 15-5-0-2 at Madison Square Garden while going 16-7-1-1 away from home. The Rangers were on a great pace heading into the All Star Break with 7 wins in 10 games.

Another surprise team in the Rangers Atlantic Division has been the New Jersey Devils as they are roaring back into playoff contention after their stunning collapse last year. The Devils were 26-19-1-2 and in the thick of the Eastern Conference race. The big problem facing New Jersey is money as the National Hockey League is looking to loan them cash just to get through the season while owner Jeffery Vanderbeek will look for what was called a “long term financial solution.”

The financial situation is so bad for New Jersey that they are considering a trade of captain Zach Parise in order to cut payroll. New Jersey would be looking to get draft picks in return for Parise. The Devils are looking at a season loss of $20 million and desperately need to make the playoffs to cut that amount down. New Jersey entered the second half of the season in 7th place with the top 8 teams in the Eastern Conference qualifying for the post season.

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