The NHL season is on hold due to COVID protocols. Since hockey is not returning till after the holidays, where do the Rangers stand after their first 30 games? There were several good things that took place, as well as some bad. Here they are.
The New York Rangers are second in points (42) in the Metropolitan Division, behind only the Carolina Hurricanes (43) and the Washington Capitals (43). The Rangers played one more game than the Hurricanes, but one less than the Caps.
With a record of 19-7-4, the Rangers have one of their best starts in franchise history. If they keep on winning, they may have their best point percentage in history as well. Right now, the Rangers stand at .700 and their best season was 2014-2015 when they had .689 with a 53-22-7 record in 82 games. They finished this season with 113 points under Coach Alain Vigneault. There are still plenty of games left in the season, but this is something positive the Rangers can look at after the break.
Chris Kreider. Nothing else really needs to be said. Kreider is leading his team with goals (18) and power-play goals (11). He is ranked fifth in the league in goals and second only to Leon Draisaitl in PPG. Kreider should have a “C” on his jersey.
Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox are other key players that had some great moments. He leads the Rangers in points at 33, Adam Fox a close second at 31. Panarin is ranked ninth in points and Fox is ranked 17th. Fox leads the Rangers in assists at 26 and ranks fourth in the league, while Panarin is second on the team with 24, ranking ninth in the league.
Although the Rangers are off to a great start coming off the holiday break, there is still some questions that must be answered. First, Gerard Gallant needs to play the young players more. For example, players like Alexis Lafreniere are not getting enough ice time. Filip Chytil has not been playing much either, but he has been struggling. The struggling could be because he isn’t played much.
Although the Rangers can and have been a very physical team, they need to up the ante. There were games where they started out getting out-hit and were bad defensively. Rangers need to keep up the physical play throughout the entire game for them to be successful and not just play like this because they had a bad period. It needs to be consistent.
Another thing the Rangers must work on is associated with physical play. It is great to be physical, but there is also a time and place to do so. To send a message, understandable. It is also important to allow the team to make a play after a hit. It has happened many, many times where the Rangers go into the offensive zone to hit, but never retrieve possession of the puck. What’s the point? A player should be physical, especially against the boards, if he or a teammate is entering the zone to get the puck. Player vs player is great if a play is being made, but there should be a reason for it. Sending a message, as previously stated, is understandable and an exception, especially when a team is struggling. It also gets the crowd into the game more.
What’s Next for the Rangers?
If the NHL continues as planned, the Rangers will be playing against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 at 7 p.m. ET. This is if the NHL and NHLPA decide to keep the regular season going and not postpone anymore games due to COVID. The Panthers are 18-7-4 in 29 games at 40 points. They are third in the Atlantic Division and have a goal differential of +17. The good news for them is that they had lost three games in a row before COVID paused the NHL season. This could be the break they need to get their team going again.
Both the Rangers and the Panthers are pretty evenly matched with Rangers only having played one game more. The Panthers are one win away from tying the Rangers in points. The Rangers are the fifth best team in the league point-wise and the Panthers are right behind them in sixth. Who will win this matchup, with two of the best NHL teams facing off against each other? If COVID doesn’t screw things up even more, check out Wednesday night’s game at 7 p.m. ET.
Featured Image Courtesy of brianspagnoli.com
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