What I want for Christmas: New York Rangers edition
The New York Rangers have just sent us off into the holiday break with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. With the victory, the Blueshirts now hold a record of 23-8-1. This has earned them 47 points (Tied-2nd in the NHL) and a points percentage of .734 (1st in the NHL).
It is hard to ask for much else from this team. They lead the league in power play percentage (31.1), face-off win percentage (54.8), and are top 5 in penalty kill percentage (85.7). That being said, even those who have plenty will always come up with a Christmas list.
Here are Forever Blueshirts’ Christmas Wishlist for the New York Rangers.
New York Rangers Christmas Wishlist
1. Get healthy and stay healthy
The number one gift the Rangers could get this year is to be fully healthy. While they have managed to stay on track, losing both Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko long term has been hurting their depth. Chytil has been skating on his own for a couple of weeks now, but is still yet to return to the team after suffering another concussion in his young career. The 24-year-old forward hasn’t suited up for the Blueshirts since his injury on November 2nd against the Carolina Hurricanes. His return would mean some incredible depth at the center position.
Kaapo Kakko would also be a welcome addition back to the lineup. Although he only had 3 points (2G-1A) prior to his injury, his defensive play was incredible for the Rangers. Since his injury, there has been a noticeable downfall in New York’s defensive play. Kakko was injured on November 27th and immediately placed on the long term injured reserve list. For the Rangers to get both of these players back and have them remain healthy would be the biggest gift of all.
2. Kaapo Kakko breaks out as 1RW
The second gift New York would love is for Kakko to break out once he returns from injury. He was one of the prime break out candidates coming into this season, yet it never seemed to fall into place. The 22-year-old forward struggled early on this season, but was not necessarily playing bad hockey. While Blake Wheeler has started to improve his play on the top line, it would be great to see Kakko return to that position and start piling on some points. He may be only 22, but he is now in his fifth NHL season. If he does not show signs of improvement, he may become one of the Rangers’ biggest trade chips around the deadline.
3. Rangers trade for one big name
While the Rangers’ roster has been incredible this season, it feels as though they are one big name away from being unstoppable. The consensus is that a solidified first line right-winger is the one piece that the Rangers need to find. Perhaps a reunion with Vladimir Tarasenko is the move to make. Or maybe the Rangers will take a gamble on another center like Steven Stamkos, who is still yet to sign an extension with Tampa Bay. No matter who it is, the Rangers should bring in one last piece as they are looking like a clear contender for the Stanley Cup.
4. Goalies continue their exceptional play
The Blueshirts are no strangers to receiving exceptional goaltending on a nightly basis. While Igor Shesterkin struggled for a brief time following his injury, his performances against Boston, Toronto, and Buffalo indicated that he may be returning to his Vezina-winning form. On the season, he holds a 13-7-0 record along with a .906% save percentage and a 2.86 GAA. These numbers, while still great, are slightly down from past seasons. That being said, Shesterkin will look to turn it around as we approach the New Year.
A great gift has already been the performance of Jonathan Quick. He has absolutely silenced those who doubted him coming into the season. So far this season, Quick has only lost once in regulation with an incredible 9-1-1 record. He also has a save percentage of .920 and a GAA of 2.27. Night after night, Quick has been giving us vintage performances. It would be a great gift if both of these goaltenders could stay hot as the season rolls on.
5. Artemi Panarin hits 100 points for the first time
Another gift for both the Rangers and Artemi Panarin would be for him to eclipse the 100 point mark in a single season for the first time in his career. It is hard to believe that he has not accomplished this feat before, being such a prolific scorer. After a disappointing playoff performance last season, Panarin came into the year with one goal in mind. To dominate the league. So far, he has done just that. He currently sits at 44 points (18G-26A) through 32 games and is projected to finish the year with 113 points. It would be his best season by a landslide. His highest single season point total came during the 2021-2022 season when he finished with 96.
Let’s all hope that the Rangers find themselves on the nice list this year. As Christmas approaches, we can all look forward to the gift of Rangers hockey as this incredible season continues.