Welcome to New York Rangers Weekly! The New York Rangers are seven games into their season and have started off with a record of 4-2-1. The team has displayed more positives than negatives thus far, as indicated by their record, but the organization has aspects of the game they can improve upon. Some of the players need to contribute more offensively and the power play needs to be better, but the team has been led by good goaltending by starter Igor Shesterkin. Let’s take a look at some observations in the early part of the season.
Rangers Look Like Road Warriors
After losing to the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars, the Blueshirts were victorious in four consecutive road games against the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators. Shesterkin displayed his potential as a number one netminder as he allowed three goals in three of the games. He posted save percentages (SV%) of .969, .976, and .966 in three of the four games he played in on the road trip. Alexandar Georgiev, who had not played since the opening game against the Capitals, fared much better in the game against the Senators, as he allowed two goals and had a save percentage of .929.
The Rangers did not fair well in the game against the Calgary Flames, as they lost 5-1 and Shesterkin did not have a good night. However, after a successful road trip, it is not surprising the team had a loss like they did against the Flames. The franchise is still in the midst of taking the next steps to become a playoff contender and will experience its share of inconsistent play during the season.
Rangers’ Power Play Needs to Improve
The Rangers have not had success on the power play as they rank 29th in the NHL with a 11.5 percent rate. The team is 3-for-26 on the man advantage after seven games and need a spark as two of their offensive contributors, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, have combined for only two goals. However, once the latter has a big game as he did last season with a hat trick among his six points in the 9-0 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers, he can become an offensive force for the Rangers. He has produced steady assist numbers with five through seven games. The team needs to have balance in all aspects of the game in order to be a great team in the NHL and they have struggled with consistency on offense so far.
Panarin’s Early Season Struggles
Panarin has one goal and three assists through seven games and has not produced like the difference-maker the team has relied on him to be early on this season. While the new season is only two weeks old and the forward will eventually start playing well offensively, his slow start has played a part in the offensive struggles. The Rangers have been inconsistent in scoring this season — they have goals in the first period in two of their games and they have no more than one goal in the first period. Fans will need to remain patient this season as the Rangers will have their share of ups and downs with a new head coach in Gerard Gallant and their transition to a playoff contender.
The Rangers have a home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets before heading on the road to face the Seattle Kraken and to western Canada to play the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Flames. The team needs to continue working on establishing continuity on offense in order to take pressure off of their goaltending having to win games on a regular basis. How this season plays out will provide fans with whether the young core that includes players, such as Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere, can be relied upon to make the Rangers a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference for the Stanley Cup.