3 Takeaways From the Rangers’ 5-Game Homestand

The New York Rangers played well during their five-game homestand, finishing with a 4-1 record, and had two consecutive games where they shut out their opponents. The Rangers secured leads often in several games, and they put the rest of the teams on notice that they will be a difficult adversary during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ryan Lindgren New York Rangers
Ryan Lindgren, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Rangers are playing well at the right time, with only a few weeks until the start of the postseason. The club has a 7-3-1 record during March and is in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 11 games to play before the end of the regular season. The New Jersey Devils have a six-point advantage over New York for the second spot, while the first-place Carolina Hurricanes have an eight-point lead over the Rangers.

Barring a collapse from the two clubs ahead of them, the Rangers likely finish in third place in the Metro and will play the Hurricanes or Devils in the first round of the playoffs. Even though they may not advance in the division standings, New York can enter the playoffs with momentum by playing well during the remaining games on their schedule. Let’s take a look at three takeaways from the Rangers’ homestand.

Lindgren Returned Against the Hurricanes

Ryan Lindgren suffered an injury in the Feb. 25 loss to the Washington Capitals and missed the Rangers’ following 11 contests. New York missed his presence, as he is one of their more underrated players, but he returned in the March 21 loss to the Hurricanes.

Lindgren and Adam Fox are a good defensive pairing, as the 2021 Norris Trophy winner is a highly skilled offensive blueliner. The Minneapolis, Minnesota native excels at maintaining a physical presence at even strength and the penalty kill (PK). Lindgren is one of their top players in taking hits from the opposition. He has taken 102 hits this year as Braden Schneider (159) and Alexis Lafreniere (110) are the only Rangers players that have taken more at five-on-five play, per Natural Stat Trick.

Lindgren plays relentlessly as anyone on the roster, and his health is important with the playoffs a few weeks away. Last year, in 17 postseason games, he led the Rangers with 61 hits taken and finished behind Jacob Trouba and Fox with 27 shots blocked. Lindgren’s three-game absence was significant during New York’s first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they managed to turn the series around in their favor once he returned.

The Rangers Have a Plethora of Offensive Options

The Rangers displayed how well they can play on offense in three of their five home games. The club opened up the scoring in every game and tallied three or more goals during a period multiple times during the homestand.

During the March 18 win versus the Penguins, the Rangers scored four goals during the second period, with three of the tallies coming in four minutes and 44 seconds; Patrick Kane and Mika Zibanejad each had two assists during the second period.

Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin commented on how tough an opponent the Rangers will be following their additions at the trade deadline, “It’s a [dangerous] team right now. Every line is [dangerous]. They’re probably, like, [the] best team in the league right now. They’re focused on winning the [Stanley] Cup. If they play hard, they have a chance to win for sure. (from ‘Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin sees new-look Rangers as a ‘danger team’, ‘New York Post, 3/17/23).

The following night, March 19, against the Nashville Predators, New York scored six goals in the first period, with four of the tallies occurring in two minutes and 39 seconds. During the opening period, K’Andre Miller had two goals and two assists, Artemi Panarin scored once and had two assists, and Zibanejad had one goal and an assist.

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The Penguins and Predators are not top teams in the league, but the Rangers were impressive offensively during these games. They have the task of playing competitively with four of their five remaining contests in March away from Madison Square Garden. Two of the contests are against clubs ahead of them in the Metro — the Hurricanes on March 23 and the Devils on March 30. New York faces the Florida Panthers, a club in the Eastern Conference wild-card hunt, on March 25.

Shesterkin Regains Confidence

Igor Shesterkin struggled during February and has played better during March. Last month, he finished with a save percentage (SV%) of less than .900% in six of his seven starts in goal. But he only has two games in eight starts with a save percentage below .900% during March.

Igor Shesterkin New York Rangers
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Shesterkin needed to play perfectly too many times last year for the Rangers. But following the additions of Vladimir Tarasenko and Kane during the trade deadline period, New York has more offense to take pressure off of their starting goaltender.

Shesterkin needs to be at the top of his game for the Rangers to win a championship. However, they can not rely solely on him for success. New York has plenty of players who can contribute over the course of the 2023 playoffs to give enough offensive support for him.

The quick bursts of goals the Rangers scored during the back-to-back games against the Penguins and Predators is proof of how talented their offense is. They’re now in a period of their season where the health of their players is paramount, with a few weeks until the start of the playoffs. If they enter the postseason playing well and with a healthy roster, they are capable of winning a Stanley Cup.

Their play during the five-game homestand is proof they will be a tough opponent to beat in a seven-game series, especially on their home ice. If they play well during their upcoming road games, that will give them more momentum as the postseason draws near. They are a dangerous opponent for another club to face in the playoffs due to their depth and can win a championship.

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