The Best Developments of the Rangers Season - NBC New York

The Best Developments of the Rangers Season

From Gaborik to the defense to Tortorella, everything that clicked for the Rangers



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    Tortorella finally has a team molded the way he wants it.

    The Rangers get another chance to clinch the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night.

    They'll have to do it in Philadelphia rather than at the Garden, although the way they've dominated the Flyers this season probably has the City of Brotherly Love feeling a bit like home. With the playoffs so close, it seems like a good time to go over everything that's gone right for the Rangers this season.

    Here's a look at the five best developments of the season, starting with the brains behind the whole operation.

    1. The John Tortorella Effect - During Tortorella's first two-plus seasons as the team's coach, there were more than a few moments when the team seemed to pulling in the opposite direction of the man behind the bench. Some of it had to do with roster mismatches and some of it had to do with a lack of talent, but things finally flowed together this season with a team that fully bought into everything Tortorella was selling.

    Every little thing matters on the ice with no detail too small to go without extra attention because, if it does, it will surely be the one that leads to a goal for the opposition. The Rangers have heeded their coach's call to fight for every inch and they've seen that it leads to results greater than the sum of the parts.

    2. Marian Gaborik's Rebound - All of that hard work would be useless if the Rangers couldn't put the puck in the net, however, and Gaborik has done his best to make sure that wouldn't be the case. After a mediocre season in 2010-2011, Gaborik has rediscovered his touch and given the team the offensive edge they needed to get to the top of the heap.

    As nice as Gaborik's play has been this season, his durability might be even better. He missed 20 games last year and had a long history of groin injuries in Minnesota, but he has played every game this season without missing a beat.

    3. Brad Richards' Arrival - The numbers haven't been quite as gaudy as some might have hoped when he signed as a free agent this offseason, but there's not much point arguing that Richards hasn't made a strong impact on the team's overall offensive profile. Especially encouraging is the way he and Gaborik have been clicking over the past few weeks as it is something that can make life quite daunting for visiting teams unable to match up effectively in the playoffs. 

    4. Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh - Marc Staal was the big name on defense for the Rangers in recent years, but now there's a four-headed monster on the blueline and the team is much better for it. There's so much depth that they have thrived despite all kinds of injuries and things only figure to get better in the back end for the Rangers.

    5. The Plan Pays Off - Glen Sather's tenure as the man in charge of the Rangers started off with too many stars in everyone's eyes and not nearly enough people playing like stars on the ice. That led nowhere, but Sather got a chance to shift gears and build the team with a focus on things other than big names.

    It was rough going for a few years, but things have paid off in a big way this season. Homegrown players stud the roster and the pipeline is so deep that competition for spots is going to shake loose good NHL players in camps for years to come.

    That's how franchises like the Red Wings and Devils became consistent winners. Whatever happens in the playoffs this year, the Rangers look poised for their own chance to embark on just such a run.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.