What can the New York Rangers do in the playoffs?
Ever since the New York Rangers clinched a postseason spot I’ve been asking myself just what can this team do in the playoffs?
It’s been about two weeks and I can honestly tell you that I have no idea.
Initially, it seemed pretty bad that I couldn’t figure out what they would be capable of. Let’s be honest, no one expected this type of season and the last time they were in playoffs was 2016-17.
Then it hit me like a great epiphany, that also means most others have no idea either.
New York Rangers uncertain expectations
Listen, just because I can’t put my figure on them doesn’t mean others haven’t. Or at least think they have.
For example, MSG Analyst Steve Valiquette has been lauding the New York Rangers for weeks. He also has a hard time seeing anyone beating Igor Shesterkin 4 times in a 7 games series.
On the flip side, ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski doesn’t really think much of the Rangers. Despite being one of the top teams in the NHL all season, and showing improvement after the trade deadline, he made it a point to note most of the teams they’ve beaten lately were out of the playoffs.
Money Puck, a site that calculates teams chances for making the playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup isn’t a believer in the Rangers either. They have them at a 32.9% of getting to the second round. The Rangers opponent in round one at the moment are the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is a team the Rangers beat 3 out of 4 times during season but the Pens are at 49.8% to get to round two.
One thing is certain, Vegas Odds Makers have improved the Rangers chances to win the Stanley Cup throughout the year. Per Vegas Insider, they are tied for the 7th best odds at +1600.
What will it take?
There are plenty of arguments that can be made about what the New York Rangers can do in the playoffs. They could be knocked out in the first round or possibly raise the Stanley Cup high overhead in the summer.
The truth of course is somewhere in the middle.
While I agree that Igor Shesterkin will be a key to the New York Rangers playoff success, that can be said about any other team’s goalie. As deep and talented as the Tampa Bay Lightning were last season, Andrei Vasilevskiy posted 5 shutouts. He even closed all four series with shutouts including a 1-0 effort in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Islanders.
After goaltending you need to play solid defense and then get dirty goals. The Rangers have proven to be able to do that being one of the most resilient teams this season ranking second for comeback wins.
Most important, you need to be healthy. When the playoffs start in May, the Blueshirts should have all their players ready to battle. I’ve seen it far too many times where the better team lost a series simply because they were missing key players or playing hurt.
Come playoff time, and barring any unforeseen injuries in the final three games, the Rangers will be at full strength.
Rangers have all the ingredients to go all the way
The Rangers have elite offensive players in Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Adam Fox. Backing them up are other gifted and versatile talents led by Chris Kreider, who has been a force this season. Players like Ryan Strome, Barclay Goodrow, Andrew Copp, and Frank Vatrano all add to what the Rangers can do at both ends of the ice.
Leadership is not an issue for this team even though they don’t have a captain. Jacob Trouba has been assertive both on and off the ice this season. He was reportedly in the lead to be named captain before the organization opted to hold off one more year.
Of course, the Rangers are still very young with many players having no idea what they are getting into come the playoffs. How will Ryan Lindgren, K’Andre Miller, Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, and Braden Schneider all respond?
These are legit questions, and why getting home ice advantage for round one was so important.
Here’s why I think the Rangers are a threat to go all the way this season– Gerard Gallant.
All year long, the head coach has been able to push the right buttons. Whether that’s lineup choices or in-game management, he’s proven that he knows exactly what will put them in the best position to win. Giving him last change in a series to open the playoffs is a nice edge for the Rangers.
So there you have it.
This is the fairest assessment I can give you. I’m sure there are going to be dozens of articles filled with stats and charts about what to expect of the Rangers this postseason. Depending on who writes it the info will support their opinion. But that’s the rub, because I don’t think anyone really knows what the Rangers can do.
The best part about that for the Rangers is their opponents will have no idea either.