With the All-Star break come and gone and the New York Rangers starting to get back into the swing of things, it’s time to take a look at the second half of the season, and hopefully, the playoffs.
New York is currently in 3rd place in the Metropolitan division, with a 28-15-4 record and 60 points. They are currently seeded for the playoffs right now, and would play Pittsburgh if the season ended today. With a 4-1 win over the Hurricanes, things are looking good for the Rangers. However, they must keep working on what has been helping them win.
The leading scorer for the Rangers is currently left wing Rick Nash, with 29 goals and a 44 point total. This may be due to the fact he has played in all games this season, and played considerable minutes in each game. He also has been helpful on both sides of the ice, with a +17 rating. Just behind him are Martin St. Louis, Derick Brassard, and Derek Stepan. These are all key players for the Rangers.
For the Rangers, the biggest variable due to health comes in the form of Derek Stepan, who has had a big year aside from the fact that he has missed 13 games. Even with those missed games, he is still fourth on the team in points. That just shows how much of an impact Stepan has.
With Nash and St. Louis’ full attendance and points, and Stepan in full health, the Rangers should be in good shape offensively. On the defensive side, New York is one of the best teams in the NHL. They have the third least goals against in the entire league. Special teams are also not bad, with an 82.6% penalty kill rate and power play goals 19.2% of the time.
A lot of the good defensive credit can also be attached to starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist. With a 24-11-3 record and a 2.23 GAA, he is definitely keeping the Rangers in games and ahead. Backup Talbot has a 4-4-1 record so Lundqvist will certainly be the starter for most games. He must be playing well for the Rangers to keep winning.
New York is a team that can win in the playoffs, and win no matter what their seed is. Last year, the Rangers entered the playoffs with the 4th seed and went to the Stanley Cup Finals. And they have made it at least to the second round for the last 3 years. They have to have all players on their game and healthy to keep winning. The season has been decent so far but with a healthy Stepan and great two-sided play, the Rangers should be a threat for this year’s playoffs.