Uphill battle, but winning
The journey has been more uphill for the 9th-place New York Rangers (24-15-2, 50 points). Last season this time, the Rangers were in 2nd-place chasing the 1st-place Toronto Maple Leafs. They never caught the Leafs and actually had to fight for the playoff-lives down the stretch.
Home: 9-7-2 / Away: 15-8-0
The Rangers leaders
Offense – The offense has been led by Artemi Panarin racked 20 goals, 24 assists, and 44 points in 41 games. Alexander Radulov has paid dividends after being acquired during the 2021-22 Trade Deadline. He continually shows up in the score line and is second to Panarin in points (35), and goals (15).
GWG – Panarin (6) / PPP – Panarin (16), Kakko (11)
Defense – Adam Fox is making the case for being offered a fat contract this offseason. He held out until preseason before accepting a one-year deal worth $5.00M. Fox is a plus-13 with 22 assists. The Rangers would love to bring him back paired with K’Andre Miller on the defensive 1st Line.
PIM – Trouba (39), Miller (30) / Hits – Miller (82), Trouba (70)
Goaltending – Igor Shesterkin is on pace to collect more wins than last season, but only if he stays healthy. He already has three shutouts compared to four all last season. And though his GAPG (2.76) is 16 points higher than last year, his save percentage is one point less (.903). The Rangers’ success is very dependent on Shesterkin staying healthy because Brayden Holtby has not performed well as a backup goalie (9 GP, 3-5-1, .890 SV%, 2.99 GAPG).
Shesterkin – SO (3), SV% (.903)
Left-winger Chris Kreider settled into a multi-year, lucrative contract, but he hasn’t lived up to the billing. Kreider has appeared in all 41 first half games with 4 goals, 12 points, and a minus-6 to show for it (defenseman Jacob Trouba has more points, 15). Ice Time: Kreider’s morale is suffering because he wants more ice time — but he can’t fit into the first or second line because of better quality wingers. There are teams willing to deal, but they are few (Arizona‘s offer).
The Road Ahead…
Seven games remain in January. Within those seven, the Rangers have key battles against Eastern Conference contenders with the first big showdown coming against the 2nd-place New Jersey Devils.
Further down the line is the 1st-place Tampa Bay Lightning who kick off the February calendar. Softer clubs await after that, so the Rangers will be in great shape if they go .500 at least over the next three weeks.