After slow start a Rangers win against rival Islanders tomorrow puts them into a playoff spot

new york rangers standings
Feb 1, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Julien Gauthier #12 of the New York Rangers high-fives Brendan Lemieux #48 and Adam Fox #23 as they celebrate a goal scored by teammate Kevin Rooney #17 (not pictured) during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on February 01, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Stier/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have put a slow start to the 2020-21 season behind them. In their last four contests they have gained seven of eight possible points.

They started the year winning just one of their first six games. Aside from their 5-0 win over the New York Islanders early in the season, the team was outscored 17-10.

Adversity brought the Rangers closer

Yet the team showed a lot of promise despite injuries and the Tony DeAngelo fiasco. Adversity can make or break a hockey team. Luckily for the Rangers, the team decided to take these issues and find a way to become better.

The injury bug hit the team in Mid January. New York has lost a total of 15 manpower games due to injury to date.

  • Filip Chytil (upper-body; 4-6 weeks from time of injury on Jan. 24) – has missed five games
  • Jack Johnson (lower-body; day-to-day) – has missed four games
  • Colin Blackwell (upper-body; 7-10 days from time of injury on Jan. 30) – has missed two games
  • Brendan Smith (upper-body) – has missed one game

Kappo Kakko also missed one game when he was placed on the NHL’s Covid list.

The Tony DeAngelo situation may have been brought this team closer than it has been all year. The physical altercation between him and Alexandar Georgiev was a public relations nightmare, but the organization addressed the situation quickly and the team appears to come out of it for the better.

Despite Rangers slow start, they are in the thick of it

new york rangers stats
Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The standings are an indication of how far this team has come. They were sitting in eighth place on Jan. 27, now 10 days later the team has moved to just one point behind the Penguins for 4th place with a game in hand.

Artemi Panarin leads the team with five goals and 15 points and has powered the surge in the standings. Meanwhile, Ryan Strome (4G, 6 Pts.), Pavel Buchnevich ( 3G, 8 Pts.), have begun to find the consistency they played with last season.

The team is waiting for Mika Zibanejad to get on some sort of goal or point streak. The center hit a wall right out of the gate when the season started thanks to COVID-19. He’s managed just one goal with just 3 points in 10 games this season.

Adam Fox and rookie K’Andre Miller have become two of the best defensemen in the NHL. Fox is averaging 24:29 minutes per game and Miller is not that far behind him averaging 18:57 minutes per game.

Goaltender Igor Shesterkin has won his last two games. The Czar is slowly showing the poise and confidence he had when he was called up to the team last season.

Rangers now need to keep this going

Currently, 46 games remain in the season with every game looking like a playoff contest. The Rangers will undoubtedly face more adversity ahead as they will have to handle schedule changes due to the Covid postponements. The Rangers had their game Saturday night postponed against the Devils as they have17 players on the NHL’s Covid protocol list.

This team has yet to look like a playoff-ready club, but they have improved every game since their last regulation loss on Jan. 26. Buffalo won that game 3-2 but it set the wheels in motion for the forthcoming rise in the standings.

The road to the playoffs is a tough one for this team. They have the right mix of veterans and young players to make a run should they continue to build on this newfound momentum.

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