MATT: Simply put, the Rangers' defense has been outstanding throughout the month of November — and the later stages of October — allowing two goals or fewer nine times and two shutouts since November 1. In last week alone, the Rangers have allowed just five goals in five games against teams like Montreal, Boston and Los Angeles, and are back into the top-10 in the NHL in goal against with 54. When the Rangers returned home, there were many players below 0 in the plus-minus category, and while there still many below, they're a lot closer to where they'd like to be. There's still work that needs to be done, but this team is back to being a tough team to play against.
JIM: Barry Trotz, the long-time head coach of the Predators, told reporters exactly what I have been saying and thinking about Alain Vigneault ever since he was hired as Rangers coach: AV knows how to teach defense, and at the heart of his success with Vancouver was a team that took care of its own end. So when you marry a coach who preaches that part of the game to his players--along with enforcing that puck posession is the absolute key strategy---to a team that has been real good defensively for several years running, well you end up with what we have seen out of the Rangers the past month or so. It makes for a nice winning formula, especially when you add the quality goaltending the team is getting from Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot, and some better production on the offensive end.