New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are one of the most exciting teams in the NHL. After several extremely subpar seasons, their young talent is starting to mature, and the team is coming together. After playing 34 games out of 81 so far this season they stand at a record of 22-8-4, which leads the Metropolitan Division. They are one of the most explosive teams in the league and also one of the best passing teams in the league. Although they are still an extremely young team, they are without a doubt a serious contender to win the Stanley Cup.
The Rangers have one of the most skilled offenses in the NHL. Artemi Panarin leads the team in assists so far this season with 26 and Chris Kreider leads the team in goals with 20. Both of these players are a big reason why the Rangers are as successful as they are this year. Outside of those two, they also have Mika Zibanejad, who is known to have one of the best shots in the NHL. Although he got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season, he has recently picked it up and looked more like his old self. When all of these guys are on their game, the Rangers’ offense is a serious threat.
Not only is their offense strong, but their defense is a lockdown. The defense is led by Adam Fox who is only in his third year. The small 23-year-old who stands at a mere 5’11” and 180 pounds has emerged into arguably the best defenseman in the NHL. Fox won the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) in the 2020-2021 season and going into this season remains a favorite for the award. He is mainly known for his top-tier passing. He’s among the league leaders in assists on defense. What really makes him a superstar is his high hockey IQ. He always stays composed and makes the right play. To top it all off, he also has one of the best shots in the league for a defenseman. The Rangers also have two big bruisers on defense in Jacob Truba and Ryan Lindgren, who bring great physicality to the table, night in and night out.
Last but not least, we have the glue that holds the team together: the goaltending. The past 5 years a big missing piece for the Rangers was a top-notch goalie. Igor Shesterkin has finally filled that role. His last couple of seasons were above average, but he was held back by injuries. Besides suffering a minor injury this year, it appears that his injury problems are behind him. When healthy, he has proved to be one of the best goalies in the league, if not the best. This year he has won 15 of his first 20 starts. His save percentage is about 94% and he is also only giving up a little more than 2 goals a game.
When the Rangers need a spark, you can guarantee that Igor Shesterkin is going to bring one. His flexibility and body control is what makes him so special, allowing him to make acrobatic saves while also making the simple saves dependably. It's so important to have a great goalie like Shesterkin because he gives the Rangers a chance in games where they are being outplayed, simply by saving every shot he faces.
All of the pieces of the team complement each other and have turned the Rangers into an elite hockey team. The Rangers haven’t been to the playoffs since 2017 and haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1994. Every Rangers team since the 2000’s has been missing that last crucial piece of player-to-player synchronicity, but this Rangers team is different. There is a different mindset among the players that they can beat any team on any night. There is no question that they have the talent to win the Stanley Cup, but actually winning is a lot easier said than done. Nevertheless, Ranger fans have reason to be hopeful this year.
Nevertheless, Ranger fans have reason to be hopeful this year.