Cup Scouting Report: Rangers

Has Brad Richards saved his best play for the postseason? AP Images

Craig Custance chats with rival scouts and players to break down the strengths and weaknesses of the New York Rangers.

There are two primary schools of thought when it comes to the Rangers. Either they're a team that struggled through the regular season but are built for playoff success. Or they're a team that is much more average than we all realized entering the season.

"They certainly haven't had the success they had last year so far," said one Eastern Conference forward, who followed it up with the inkling many people have.

"I don't know if that necessarily means a whole heck of a lot."

New York retooled at the deadline, and the added depth has paid off. Derick Brassard had 11 points in his first 12 games with the Rangers. Ryane Clowe had eight points in that same stretch and defenseman John Moore had five points after putting up just one in 17 games for the Blue Jackets.

The team results on the ice are starting to be just as positive, as the Rangers won five of their last six games (though Clowe's status for the playoffs is uncertain after leaving mid-game April 25). Is it a contender finding its game just in time or an average team collecting wins against disinterested non-playoff teams? That's a question that can't be answered until the postseason.

KEY STRENGTH: "The Rangers are tough because they don't give up much," said one Atlantic Division player. "That's how it is in our division. ... The D-men block so many shots as well, it's tough to get through. If you can get to [Henrik] Lundqvist, that's the only way to get to the Rangers."