Top New York Rangers storylines to follow until the end of the season
The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone. Forever Blueshirts has laid out the top New York Rangers storylines to follow since before the season started. Back in March we posted our second half look with our last update on April 15. Let’s see where we were and where this team is going for the rest of the year.
Note: From here on out I will add to this and update some of the previous identified topics. Stay with us for the best coverage of the Blueshirts around.
NYR Playoff Picture (NEW)
The Rangers remain one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Things looked bleak after losing to the Islanders and Flyers last week, but they won their third straight last night 3-1 over the Sabres. From March 17th to date, no team has picked up more points in the NHL than the Blueshirts’ 32 points.
They currently sit four points back of the Bruins with two games remaining against them. Boston holds two games in hand. The Blueshirts are five behind the Islanders and will play them for a two game set starting tomorrow. If they can win both, making the playoffs is a real possibility.
Zac Jones debuts for Rangers
Update 4/28/21: Zac Jones was thrusted into action after Jacob Trouba went down with an injury against the Islanders five games ago. In the four games he’s played, Jones has been steady for a defense basically thrown into the deep end of the pool in a playoff hunt. His stat line is modest for now with one assist and -1 rating while only playing an average of 11:41 per game.
Zac Jones drove into New York and did not need to quarantine. So what’s the plan for the freshly signed NCAA Champion with UMASS.
“It’s day by day, we’ll see how he adapts -see how he adjusts,” head coach David Quinn said. “There’s not a lot of practice time, so it’s going to be hard to evaluate him in a lot of ways at the pro level, but we’re going to do the best we can, and if we feel he gives us an indication he can help us, he’ll play.”
The expectation is that he will get in some games this season. Maybe towards the end with less than 10 games to play. Regardless, this is a great experience for him to be around the team even on the taxi squad. With the NCAA season now finished he was only going to sit home and wait, so this was the best option for a multitude of reasons.
Vitali Kravtsov watch
Update 4/28/21: Well Kravtsov was never given credit for that assist in the last update, but he did score twice although only officially credited for one thanks to an offside replay. Since April 15th, Kravtsov has added a goal and an assist to his totals and has three points in 14 games. One warning sign is that his ice time has gone under 10 minutes in each of the last two games. David Quinn will need to try and find him so more shifts with the second line.
Update 4/15/21: What a difference almost two weeks make. Kravtsov picked up his first NHL point on April 11th against the Islanders. He has yet to be officially credited with his second point as he appeared to have last touched the puck on Mika Zibanejad’s opening marker in the Blueshirts win against NJ on Monday. Currently in 6 games he has one point but that may change. More importantly is Kravtsov’s skill set and high hockey IQ have given the Rangers an X-factor. He makes them 4 lines deep and can be moved on to any line throughout the game and be effective.
Update 4/4/21: Well it finally happened. Kravtsov made his NHL debut and it was a tempered one. He worked with Alexis Lafrenière and Filip Chytil as expected. The 21 year-old rookie played 10:45 and spent most of the night getting used to the game’s speed and his team’s style of play. He made one mistake in his own zone that led to a partial breakaway stopped by Igor Shesterkin. Kravtsov almost broke the tie late on a great rebound effort while falling down. Overall, it was a good debut with a lot of promise for that young line.
Igor Shesterkin – the workhorse
Update 4/28/21: So if the Rangers make the playoffs does Igor Shesterkin beat out Kirill Kaprizov for the Calder? It’s a reasonable question because his record now stands at 15-11-3 with a 2.42 GAA, and a .922 SV%. Since he returned from his groin injury on March 25th he’s gone 10-2-2.
Update 4/15/21: I believe any questions about Igor Shesterkin handling a heave workload to bed. Since our last update he has started 4 of the last 5 games for the Blueshirts going 2-1-1 with a shutout. He is expected to get the nod for tonight as well.
Update 4/4/21: So if there was any concern about Igor Shesterkin as handling a heavy workload as the Rangers #1 goalie it should be put to rest. He made his 20th appearance of the season and continues to erase any doubts some naysayers had about his durability since his return from a groin strain. He stopped 27 of 29 shots last night and has a 9-8-2 record with a .925 SV%.
Adam Fox is worthy of Norris Trophy consideration
Update 4/28/21: The only thing that’s changed since the las update is that Adam Fox appears to have gotten better. He now leads Victor Hedman in scoring by three points. This is a second year player folks, he should win Norris in my opinion – playoffs or no playoffs.
Update 4/15/21: Adam Fox is now the leading scorer among defenseman in the NHL. The sophomore’s 39 points and 34 assists are tops in the league. He commands the Rangers PP with 20 points which is 2nd best in the entire league. Defensively his 27 takeaways are good for third. Simply put he has to be considered one of the two favorites along with Victor Hedman to win best defenseman this season.
Update: 4/4/21: Rangers defenseman Adam Fox assisted on both of Panarin’s goals last night. He’s now on a 10 game points streak with 18 points in that timeframe. There’s no question anymore that Fox is now a legit Norris candidate as his 29 assists are tied for first among all defenseman and his 33 points are second to only victor Hedman’s 35 who has played one more game.
The kids are going to be alright
Update: 4/28/21: Like I way back, the kids are going to be alright. The two that stand out since the last update are Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafrenière. Kakko continues to be a force on the walls, winning and controlling puck battles. He has four points in the 7 games since the last update (2G, 2A). Meanwhile, Lafrenière is now the team’s first line left wing and is on a three game point streak with two goals and two assists in that span.
Update 4/15/21: Since the original post in March, David Quinn has put together the “Kids Line” which features Alexis Lafrenière, Kaapo Kakko, and Filip Chytil. For Kakko he has 1G and 4A in his last five games. Lafrenière has registered a point in five of his last 11 games with 3G and 2A. Filip Chytil has notched 2G and 5A for 7 points in his last 8 games. As for K’Andre Miller, he’s still logging top minutes and is now becoming more aggressive in the offensive zone. He scored a back breaking goal on 4/9 in a huge win versus the Islanders.
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