After overcoming a pair of two-goal deficits against the high-powered Maple Leafs on Wednesday night, the Rangers are back in first place in the Metropolitan Division, which Ryan Reaves says is another clear sign that this New York team is a true contender in the Eastern Conference.
“I think we know it,” Reaves said after the Blueshirts took down Toronto 6-3 in front of a frenzied Madison Square Garden crowd. “I think maybe some of the league doesn't believe it, but let them keep believing that. We're gonna keep doing our thing and, I mean, the standings don't lie.”
As of now, the standings have the Rangers with a two-point lead over the Hurricanes in the division race, with the Panthers and Lightning as the only two teams ahead of them in the East. Reaves was one of many new faces brought in over the offseason to give New York a makeover in the toughness department, and so far, it has resulted in a much improved product on the ice, with the franchise heading towards an end to its current playoff drought.
Wednesday’s win was just another piece of evidence that the Rangers resurgence is for real.
“It shows we can hang with the big boys, that we are one of the big boys,” Reaves said. “We gotta keep beating the playoff teams. That’s something we’ve talked about. We’re proving to the league and to ourselves that we’re a contender.”
Toronto was shorthanded due to multiple players still in COVID-19 protocols, but New York received its big scoring boost from an unexpected source in Reaves, who eclipsed last year’s scoring total and netted his first goal in a Rangers sweater in one night, burying two in the back of the net to help lead New York’s comeback, and give the team another momentum boost as it will take its three-game winning streak to Raleigh on Friday night to take on another contender in the Hurricanes.
“I’ve been taking my vitamins,” Reaves said of his sudden offensive outburst. “No, I’m dead serious. That’s not even a joke, I’ve been taking a lot of vitamins.
“I felt good. Didn’t change much. Had a terrible nap, a Red Bull, and felt good.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1