The Rangers have jumped out to a 7-1 start which is evoking comparisons to last year’s squad which won it’s first five games, but then faltered through the rest of the season before blowing a 3-1 lead in the playoffs. And while it is too early to predict that the 2009-10 Rangers will avoid walking the path that the 2008-09 Rangers did, some important differences have emerged.
The first difference is Marian Gaborik, the talented winger who is one of the best scorers in the league. Gaborik has gotten out to a hot start, with six goals and 12 points in his first eight games, giving the Rangers their first legitimate superstar since Jaromir Jagr.
The second difference is Michael Del Zotto, a 19-year old rookie defenseman who has quickly become one of the best players on the Rangers. Del Zotto is part of a reenergized defensive team with even Wade Redden contributing from the point.
The third difference is John Tortorella. Torts has installed an aggressive system which puts pressure on the puck and tries to keep play in the offensive end by outworking the other team.
Add it all up and the Rangers are a much better offensive team while they still have a great goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist. Things will certainly get tougher as the season progresses, but eight games in, the Rangers look like a team that could be dangerous come April.