New York Rangers best and worse opponents in the salary cap era

new york rangers kaapo kakko
Nov 13, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Arizona Coyotes goaltender Connor Ingram (39) deflects the puck after a shot by New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) in the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers played their first game in 1926, and before the lockout in 2004-05, the organization skated in 5,320 games. Surprisingly, out of the Original Six teams, only the Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks produced sub—500 records, with New York compiling a 2,231-2,261-808-20 before the break. 

Regarding points percentage, the Rangers secured a .497 mark from 1917-2003, good enough for 14th overall, right behind the New York Islanders at .508. However, for all those decades, there was no absolute parity in the league, which was part of the reasoning behind the NHL lockout in 2004-05, resulting in the cancellation of an entire season. 

Since returning to action in October 2005, the Rangers are the sixth-winningest team in the league with a 751-501-152 record in 1,404 games. Interestingly, their .589 points percentage ranks only behind the Vegas Golden Knights (.632), Boston Bruins (.624), Pittsburgh Penguins (.617), Washington Capitals (.607), and Nashville Predators (.595). Moreover, the Predators and Rangers are the only teams from this group not to win the Stanley Cup since the lockout year. 

Although New York has yet to lift the silver chalice, there are some interesting statistics to look at when digging into their record in the salary cap era. Furthermore, we will examine which teams the Rangers have excelled against and struggled against, which has quite a few surprise entries.

Top five teams the Rangers have struggled against since 2005-06

igor shesterkin
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

5. Colorado Avalanche (10-10-5) .500%

As one of the Western Conference’s top teams, including winning the Stanley Cup in 2022, the Rangers have yet to find success against the Colorado Avalanche in the salary cap era. Before the franchise moved to Denver in 1995-96, New York came out on top of the rivalry against the Quebec Nordiques (26-20-6) from 1979 to 1995. However, since the relocation, the Rangers are 16-17-1-8 against the Avalanche, including an even 10-10-5 since 2005-06. 

4. Vegas Golden Knights (4-4-2) .500%

Although there are no minimum games played requirements for this list, we included the reigning Stanley Cup champions because, as of 2022-23, New York is an even 4-4-2 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Interestingly, the Rangers lost their first three matchups against Vegas, finally collecting a win (5-0) on Dec. 8, 2019. Moreover, the club is riding a two-game win streak over their western rivals, winning both contests in 2022-23, outscoring the eventual champions 9-2. 

Correction: The Rangers won the first ever meeting between the tow franchises 6-4 on Oct. 31, 2017. That was followed by three straight losses before the Rangers snapped the steak on Dec. 8, 2019.

3. St. Louis Blues (11-12-3) .481%

Before the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, the Rangers dominated the St. Louis Blues, nearly doubling them up in wins, 72-35-16-0. Unfortunately, New York has found the Blues troublesome since the break, compiling just an 11-12-3 record in 26 meetings. Unsurprisingly, the two teams have split the last four meetings since the shortened 2020-21 season, explaining why the record is so close. 

2. Ottawa Senators (25-29-4) .466%

Based on assumptions, most fans would think the Rangers dominated the expansion Ottawa Senators in their early days, mainly since New York was a powerhouse in the 1990s, and the Senators struggled for years. However, the two teams have been neck and neck since the beginning, with Ottawa holding an overall lead of 47-49-3-5 and posting a 25-29-4 record over New York in the salary cap era. 

1. Montreal Canadiens (24-29-5) .457%

Realistically, most fans can blame Carey Price for the Rangers’ recent struggles against the Montreal Canadiens. Since debuting in 2007-08, Price is 19-9-1 against New York in his career, helping his team secure a 24-29-5 record against their Original Six rivals. Historically, the numbers in this matchup have never been in the Ranger’s favor (202-337-94-5). However, they have closed the gap in the last 18 years but have a long way to break even.

Top five teams the Rangers have dominated since 2005-06

NHL: New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

5. Buffalo Sabres (40-17-8) .677%

Sadly, since the lockout, the Buffalo Sabres have only qualified for the playoffs on four occasions and earned the first overall pick twice in the past six seasons. Ultimately, their subpar play allowed the Rangers back into the matchup, one they previously trailed by a lot. Before the lockout, New York was 47-62-25-0 against Buffalo, but with a 40-17-8 record since, they now have the upper hand against their upstate rivals, 87-79-25-8. 

4. Carolina Hurricanes (46-21-1) .684%

The Rangers’ recent dominance over the Carolina Hurricanes in the regular season is quite puzzling, considering New York hasn’t finished ahead of them in the standings since 2016-17. Although the overall numbers are in New York’s favor, it was much closer (43-37-7-1) at the end of the 2003-04 season. Since earning a 46-21-1 record in the last 68 games, they opened up a 29-game lead in the matchup with an 89-58-7-2 record against the Hartford/Carolina franchise.  

3. Anaheim Ducks (17-7-2) .692%

Without digging into the record books, most fans would be shocked to know the Rangers struggled mightly against the Anaheim Ducks before the lockout, going 5-11-1 in 17 games. Even though the Ducks were a powerhouse briefly after 2005-06, winning the Stanley Cup in 2007, New York flipped the script. In the last 26 games, the Rangers have compiled a 17-7-2 record to take a slight edge in the overall series 22-18-1-2.

2. San Jose Sharks (16-6-2) .708%

Unlike the situation with the Ducks, the Rangers have never really struggled against the San Jose Sharks, sporting a 16-4-3 record before lockout. Since the break, New York continues to roll against their northern California rivals with a 16-6-2 record. Considering how lopsided the numbers, the Sharks have only swept the season series once in the past decade, taking both contests in 2013-14. 

1. Arizona Coyotes (19-4-2) .800%

Unfortunately, most opponents circle games against the Arizona Coyotes as easy wins, considering they are the least winningest team (except for expansion teams Vegas and Seattle) since the lockout at 603-639-162. Interestingly, the Rangers used to scrap by in contests against the former Winnipeg Jets/Coyotes franchise before the lockout with a 32-22-6 record. However, in the last 25 games, it’s been one-sided, with New York cruising to a 19-4-2 record, their best mark against any club in the salary cap era. 

Honorable Mention

The Seattle Kraken joined the NHL in time for the 2021-22 season, and after two years in the league, they have faced the Rangers on just four occasions. As of this writing, New York is 3-0-1 against the Kraken, winning the first two meetings before dropping a 3-2 overtime contest on Nov. 17, 2022. After the loss, the team picked up another win in February 2023, having yet to lose to the expansion team in regulation. 

Although the Rangers have the best win percentage against the Kraken, including them on the list with just four contests between the two clubs was unfair. When we revisit this list in a few years, Seattle may find a permanent spot amongst the top ten. 

Metropolitan vs. W-L-OT P% Atlantic vs. W-L-OT P%
Carolina 46-21-1 .684 Buffalo 40-17-8 .677
New Jersey 56-30-11 .634 Florida 35-15-7 .675
Philadelphia 56-31-9 .630 Detroit 16-8-9 .621
Columbus 23-15-3 .598 Toronto 33-19-6 .621
Washington 36-29-9 .547 Tampa Bay 30-19-8 .596
New York 46-41-10 .526 Boston 37-25-4 .591
Pittsburgh 43-38-14 .526 Ottawa 25-29-4 .466
Montreal 24-29-5 .457
Central vs. W-L-OT P% Pacific vs. W-L-OT P%
Arizona 19-4-2 .800 Seattle 3-0-1 0.875
Chicago 14-9-2 .600 San Jose 16-6-2 .708
Nashville 14-10-0 .583 Anaheim 17-7-2 .692
Dallas 13-9-3 .580 Edmonton 12-8-4 .583
Winnipeg 23-16-10 .571 Calgary 12-9-2 .565
Minnesota 13-12-0 .520 Los Angeles 12-9-4 .560
Colorado 10-10-5 .500 Vancouver 12-10-2 .542
St. Louis 11-12-3 .481 Vegas 4-4-2 .500

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