After all the consternation, the confusion and sometimes outright panic, the New York Rangers may have found their “groove” again and discovered the winning ways of the past season. Finding a way to win again consistently means even more since the Christmas holiday season is now used as a playoff benchmark and if the NHL season ended today, the Rangers would find themselves in a wild card postseason spot in the Eastern Conference with a combined 14-10-5 record.
In all reality, the 2022-23 NHL season has been bewildering to Rangers fans. What started out as a promising year with a huge opening day win against the Tampa Bay Lightning has become an exercise in futility, frustration and redemption – all in the same week sometimes. Nevertheless, the Blueshirts seem to be on track again and found their winning ways. With three wins in a row and a 4-1-1 record in their las six games, the Rangers are finally showing glimpses of promise from last season.
Goaltender Igor Shesterkin, whose play has been suspect at times early on this season, seems to finally be back to his heroic style of play. In the recent road win against the Colorado Avalanche, Shesterkin posted 41 saves in a big 2-1 shootout win. Ironically, the Rangers, along with Shesterkin, seem to be playing better on the road than in the friendly ice of Madison Square Garden with Shesterkin posting a, 8-0-1 record in nine road games and a 2.09 goals-against average and a .930 save percenage in those road games. Shesterkin has a 13-4-4 overall record this season and ranks ninth among goalies in the NHL with a season-total 2.50 goals-against average and a solid .917 save percentage.
The Rangers have only lost one game in regulation time when they are tied after the second period and have an overall 8-1-5 record going into the third period or overtime when evened up with opponents. The Rangers have built a reputation this season as being slow starters in the first period but get hot when the games are on the line in the latter frames.
Point production continues to flow from the likes of Artemi Panarin whose 28 assists so far places him in a tie for first place among NHL skaters with none less than Connor McDavid. Panarin has provided solid point production with six goals along with those 28 assists. Mika Zibanejad has added to the cause with 15 goals and another 17 assists. Adam Fox has come into his own this season with another seven goals and 23 assists while alternate captain Chris Kreider continues to show his value to the Rangers organization with 13 goals and ten assists as well.
Statistics aside, the Rangers seem to have found themselves finally this season after two months of flailing around on the ice. If they can hold their wild card position heading into the Christmas holiday season and the new year, they stand a strong chance (baring any mid or late season meltdown) of at least finding themselves in the Stanley Cup playoffs again this season.