3 reasons why the Rangers can win the Stanley Cup

NHL: New York Islanders at New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not often you have to make the case that the team holding the best record in the league is underrated, but yet here we are. There’s been some discourse, both in the national media as well as among fans, that the New York Rangers aren’t a serious contender for the Stanley Cup.

The Rangers sit atop the National Hockey League with 112 points through 81 games with a chance to win its first division title and Presidents’ Trophy since 2015.

Often when a team is competing for first overall, things are written and said about how the team can win the Stanley Cup. But that doesn’t seem to be the case around the Rangers this season, with some calling this team an anomaly.

Related: Rangers set franchise record for single season wins

Rangers under appreciated Cup contender

The big issue many seem to have with the Rangers is they’re not very good at 5-on-5, and create most of their offense while on the man advantage. Do you know where we’ve heard that before? If you guessed 2021-22, you’d be spot on. That team was two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final, despite it being most of the players’ first playoff experience.

The notion successful power play teams can’t survive during the playoffs because most of the game is played at 5-on-5 is just factually inaccurate.

As recent as the 2021-22 playoffs there were, on average, 4.7 penalties taken by each team, compared to just 3.7 per game during the regular season. With those numbers going up that year, it may have allowed for teams like the Colorado Avalance and Rangers, two teams who led the playoffs that year in power play percentage, to deep runs.

In a recent ESPN article, various experts weighed in as to why the Rangers are unlikely to win the Stanley Cup this year. As you’ve already probably guesses, they focus on the team’s ineffectiveness at 5-on-5 to create offense. There is also mention that the Carolina Hurricanes stand in the way of the Rangers winning a Stanley Cup because Carolina is “a top team in the East.” As if we all thought the road to the Cup would go through San Jose, Chicago, and Columbus. Instead of focusing on the negative, which a lot of people seem to love to do around this team, I’ll tell you three reasons why the Rangers can win the Stanley Cup this year.

3 reasons why the New York Rangers can win the Stanley Cup

NHL: New York Islanders at New York Rangers
Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports


It’s been no surprise that a team that runs out Igor Shesterkin two to three times a week is going to be close to the top of the league in goaltending. While Igor had some big struggles in December and January, he’s figured himself out over the last two and a half months. Since February 1st, Shesterkin is first in the NHL in save percentage, while facing the fifth most shots by any goaltender.

It takes great goaltending to win the Cup and the Rangers certainly have that. Jonathan Quick adds some much-needed depth to that position in a worst-case-scenario incident. On the season, Quick is 12th in the NHL in save percentage, actually tied with Shesterkin in that category (minimum 20 games started). Quick also brings the intangibles of winning two Stanley Cups as a starting goaltender (three in his career).

All but one Stanley Cup-winning team since 2018-19 has won the Cup without being a top-10 team at keeping the puck out of your net. Currently, the Rangers sit at 7th in the league in goals against per game (2.79).

Special Teams

The focus of the Rangers special teams is on their power play. They’re a team that scores on the man advantage and gains momentum from power plays. The Rangers’ power play has been one of the league’s best over the last few seasons and this one is no exception. New York sits secondin the NHL in power play percentage (26.8%), only behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (28.9). 

You certainly don’t need a good power play to win a Stanley Cup. St. Louis, in 2019, had the fifth worst power play that post-season and still won it all. But recently teams with good power plays have succeeded in the playoffs. In both championships, the Lightning boasted a top-five playoff power play and the Colorado Avalanche led the playoffs on the man advantage the year they won. 

But it’s not just the power play that makes the Rangers special teams so dangerous. They are an elite-level penalty-killing team, ranking third in the league in that category as well. Not allowing teams to capitalize on offensively advantageous situations is a huge momentum swinger in any game, let alone a playoff one.


This one is a little bit more arbitrary and with a little less statistical fact. Peter Laviolette has done nothing but win and instill a culture in the Rangers organization this season. Laviollette’s experience and success coaching at the NHL level is not something the Rangers have had from a bench boss in a while. Laviolette is the first Ranger’s head coach to have won a Stanley Cup before coming to New York since John Tortorella.

You can see the difference in the teams’ play style from a year ago. Guys like Alexis Lafreniere and Vincent Trocheck breaking out this season. On the back end, developing guys like Zac Jones and Braden Schneider to play with more confidence and skill has given this team the depth that it needs to compete for a Stanley Cup in June.

All three of these factors are reasons why Ranger fans should be excited, nervous, anxious, and ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs to start in a couple of weeks. There hasn’t been a team competing for a President’s’ Trophy that I’ve seen in a long time be disrespected by the media and fans the way the Rangers have this year.

At the end of the day, what you, or I, or the TNT panel have to say regarding who we think can win a championship this year means absolutely nothing. It will all come down to the players and coaches between April 20th through June 24th. 

Steven Pappas is a North Jersey native who works as a news anchor and reporter at WHAM-13 in Rochester,... More about Steven Pappas

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