The New York Rangers are 10-4-3 for 23 points after 5 weeks of the 2021-22 NHL season.
That’s good for third place in the Metro Division, two points behind the Washington Capitals and three points in back of the Carolina Hurricanes (albeit with two games in hand).
The Blueshirts are also five points up on the Blue Jackets for the last wild card spot. Columbus does have three games in hand, but also two losses to the Rangers already.
Yet, if you read about the Blueshirts there seems to be a lot of focus about what they are doing wrong. Plenty of articles on what they need to improve, and more.
That needs to change.
The New York Rangers don’t need to be perfect
It’s pretty natural to look for deficiencies, no matter how good a team is playing. Honestly, general managers and coaches do it every day in an effort to improve.
Leo Tolstoy the author of War and Peace wrote, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
No hockey team is perfect, not even the team that lifts the Cup at the end of the playoffs. Most will tell you, it’s about the team that is healthier and makes the least mistakes that wins.
For the most part this year, the Rangers have done a good job of minimizing errors. Having Igor Shesterkin there to bail you out when they’re made helps too.
Look, the Rangers ranking 31st out 32 teams on faceoffs is concerning. Even more so is their Goals Against Average of 2.76 being slightly higher than their Goals For of 2.65.
In fact, a lot of their team stats aren’t great. That includes giving up the 7th most Shots Against per game at 33.2 while ranking 30th for Shots For at 28.1.
So let’s look at the biggest positive the New York Rangers have going for them. They continue to find ways to win.
At the end of the day, that’s how you calculate points and make the playoffs.
What’s going right for the New York Rangers
This season, the Rangers have lost a grand total of four times in regulation. Twice to the same team, the Calgary Flames. Other than that, they lost opening night to the Capitals, and last night to the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s pretty good 17 games into the season.
Here’s another major positive, the Rangers have picked up many of their wins and points on the road.
The Blueshirts are tied for second in the NHL with six road wins, and their 14 road points also ranks second as well.
At home, the Rangers have played just 6 games. That’s tied for second least in the league because the Islanders have yet to play one.
Still, the Rangers home points percentage of .750 has them ranked 6th overall on the season.
Remember, they don’t give out playoff spots just because a team is great at faceoffs or has a better goal differential. They give them to teams that earn points, and the Rangers have gotten a good head start.
And here’s the rub, they know they can play better.
Rangers in a good spot to make the postseason already
In this new era of parity a good start goes a long way. According to Sportsnet, from 2005-06 until 2018-19, just nine out 59 teams came back to make the playoffs after being out by at least 4 points by November 1st.
The Rangers are well past that date, and are sitting in an excellent spot being third in the Metro Division.
Igor Shesterkin has been brilliant posting an 8-3-2 record with a 2.39 GAA and a .930 SV%. He is exactly what many believed he would be, Henrik Lundqvist’s heir apparent.
Chris Kreider is on a tear and has never played so well. His 12 goals in 17 games has him on a pace for 57 goals this season. While I don’t expect him to reach that mark, a 40 goal season is within reach. Considering Mika Zibanejad has yet to really get going, this is a promising sign.
Same goes for the second line featuring Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin. Now that Kaapo Kakko looks like he found his game, they should be able to improve the Blueshirts Goals For Average.
Adam Fox. Yes, that all that needs to be said.
Bottom line, the Rangers have room for improvement and will likely address their need at RW soon enough. The Sammy Blais injury hurt the team’s depth, but replacing his 4 assists shouldn’t be too hard. Julien Gauthier has already stepped up in his absence.
This is a good team, with a veteran coach in Gerard Gallant that has a long history of success. They are in a good spot, and there should be more positivity around the Rangers than they are currently getting.
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