They have not been close to the top for a while, so the Rangers will have to demonstrate their worth over and over again in order to convince skeptics and maybe at times even themselves that they belong.
The Blueshirts went two-for-two against the two-time defending Cup champion Lightning and that reinforced the team’s status and confidence.
And even better that they were able to do so with considerable pieces missing from their lineup.
“It’s a really good team to kind of measure what we’re made of,” Mika Zibanejad said after recording his sixth hat trick over the last three seasons.
“We want to play these types of games, we want to play against this type of opponent and I think we showed it to ourselves that we can play with them.”
We won’t know just how good these Rangers truly are for some time, but they are establishing a foundation for success just about every day. And they owe no one an apology for having a superior goaltender in Igor Shesterkin.