The New York Rangers are set to resume their 2021-22 season after a lengthy break from the All-Star festivities. The Rangers host the Boston Bruins tonight and the team will be expected to come out refreshed and ready to go. It will not be an easy game back, especially with the Bruins primed after a few games back under their belt already.
Despite some rough patches, the Rangers are having a solid season with steady contributions from some of their biggest names: Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin, and Chris Kreider. With netminder Igor Shesterkin performing wonderfully, the Rangers are past the halfway point to the season and consistent production will become more crucial. In fact, the Rangers have a different player leading each category for goals, assists, and points — not a necessity, but it shows that one player is not the singular source of all the offense.
Not only are these names leading the team, but also the league. Kreider is tied for first place in the league with most goals (33). He also leads the league in power-play scoring (17). Fox is tied for third overall in assists (40) among all players, and Panarin is right under his teammate with 39 assists. As meaningful as the contributions are to the team, it is enjoyable to see these names stay up there with the league’s finest.
Rangers’ Leader With Goals: Kreider
Thirty-year-old Kreider is enjoying a career season with the Rangers. The sturdy forward led the league with scoring and power-play scoring for some time now, essentially from the beginning of the season. His net-front presence and deflection specialty on the power play is a massive part of the team’s success.
With 47 points in 47 games this season, he is on pace to hit the 50-goal mark as he currently stands at 33 goals and will be the fourth Ranger ever to do so if he completes the accomplishment. Kreider’s breakout season is an even better sight to see after he signed an elongated contract with the team. His leadership qualities also make him a wonderful display of how a strong work ethic pays off in front of the younger players on the team.
He well exceeded the expectations this season; he already surpassed his career high in scoring, power-play goals, and power-play points. In fact, a Kreider goal is almost always a guarantee when the Rangers go on the power play. To put into perspective how well he is performing this season in particular, he finally hit the 200-goal mark in his career that spanned over 620 games.
Rangers’ Leader With Assists: Fox
Fox, coming off his Norris Trophy season last season as the league’s best defenseman, is making another strong case to receive the award again this season. The 23-year-old defender already outpaced himself for points compared to his two prior seasons, without ever forfeiting any of his defensive capabilities.
Fox collected 47 points in 44 games played thus far. Forty-seven points is his season-high mark, which he collected in 55 games played last season. He also picked up more goals compared to last season and with plenty of games to go can continue to set new career numbers.
Though Fox is not a flashy player, he is extremely reliable and intelligent. Though he is one of the younger players on the team, that does not mean he shouldn’t be recognized as one of the team’s best players. As mentioned, he is a special type of blueliner in which he never has to give up his defensive role to help the team produce.
One of Fox’s specialties is his awareness of the location of his teammates at all times, which is why he is able to assist on so many goals. Nineteen of his 40 assists were secondary, meaning the large majority of his helpers are the primary assist. Fox plays such a complete game night after night — it is easy to see why he is able to rack up so many assists in any given stretch of games.
Rangers’ Leader With Points: Panarin
When a star like Panarin leads his team with points, it isn’t shocking, but the Rangers are so loaded with talent that his point total isn’t yards ahead of his teammates’. Panarin rather quietly racked up 52 points in 42 games played this season. Most of his points come from assists with 39 assists and 13 goals.
Though he is a perennial producer, part of Panarin’s upside is that he can play with whoever and help elevate his game. This is especially important as the team is facing some injuries with Kaapo Kakko out and the lines will likely be shuffled as more absences may occur in the following games.
As the team transitions into the latter part of their season, they will need to prolong their success to stay in the higher ranks of their division, which will not be easy. Clearly, the Rangers are a better team when they’re scoring on the power play, too, which has been key in getting them to this point in the season, but it cannot take them all the way to a Stanley Cup.
Rachel is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. She can be followed on Twitter @RachelNHL.