Stanley Cup winner coming through for Rangers in playoffs

NHL: New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers stormed into the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs fresh off a Presidents’ Trophy-winning regular season. Now, they are eight wins away from their ultimate goal in the ultra-competitive “second season.” 

That second season represents a blank slate for all players in a sense. Artemi Panarin, for example, wouldn’t be judged so great if he struggled again in the postseason, even though he had an NHL career-high 120 points in the regular season.

The reverse holds true for Barclay Goodrow, who’s standing out again in the playoffs, this time after recording only 12 points (four points, eight assists) in the regular season. That was his lowest point total in a full season since his rookie campaign with the San Jose Sharks in 2014-15, when he had also had 12 points in 60 games.

Though scoring is not exactly why the Rangers signed the two-time Stanley Cup champion to a six-year, $21.85 million contract on July 22, 2021, such a dip in production was noticeable, especially on a team hungry for scoring from its bottom six.

He scored an NHL career-high 13 goals and 33 points in his first season on Broadway. His 12 points this season were 20 fewer than the 32 points he averaged in his first two seasons with the Rangers. 

Many called for Goodrow to be traded, scratched or even waived in 2023-24.. There was an outcry over the $3.641 million average annual value of his contract, which runs through the 2026-27 season, even though he’s an alternate captain, key defensive forward and important part of one of the best penalty-killing units in the League.

Related: Healthy Filip Chytil, Blake Wheeler could boost Rangers in conference final

Barclay Goodrow stepping up production in playoffs for Rangers

NHL: Stanley Cup Champion-Tampa Bay Lightning Parade
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the second season, though, Goodrow is proving his worth. The anchor of the fourth line has five points (three goals, two assists) in 10 postseason games. His three goals are fifth most on the Rangers, right behind Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere, who are tied for third with four goals apiece.

Goodrow has a knack for scoring clutch playoff goals, though he only has nine in 91 postseason games. With San Jose in 2019, he scored an iconic overtime goal in Game 7 of the first round against the Vegan Golden Knights. His short-handed game-winning goal in Game 3 against the Washington Capitals this postseason was massive, as well. The Penalty kill is ranked second in the playoffs (89.5%) and has four shorthanded goals. 

Goodrow exemplifies the player you need to win 16 games this time of year.  Just ask Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper how valuable Goodrow was on their matchup line with Blake Coleman and Yanni Gourde when the Lightning won consecutive Stanley Cup titles. 

“You can’t have all Ferraris, sometimes you need a good old-fashioned four-wheel drive Jeep to get you through the mud and that’s what Barclay Goodrow can do for you,” Cooper famously said.

This blue-collar work ethic embodies Goodrow’s value to the Rangers. He plays a smart defensive game, forechecks and throws the body on every shift, fights when necessary, and is a true leader in the locker room and on the ice.

He’s also an invaluable member of the PK, which is clicking at 89.5 percent in these playoffs, second best in the NHL. And his average ice time (13:23) is up nearly a full minute from the regular season (12:33)

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette offered high praise explaining that Goodrow “checks all the boxes” with his unseen intangibles. 

“He does anything we ask and everything we ask. I never once judged his season on whether or not he was scoring 15 goals or 20 goals,” Laviolette said Sunday. “He’s a valuable person to our team”

And his value will increase when the Rangers play the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final, and hopefully beyond, if they can reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 10 years.

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