Well, it must be Christmastime because Rangers fans are finally starting to get some of their holiday wishes – a winning team.  In fact, if the season ended tomorrow, the Rangers would claim an Eastern Conference wild card spot and be in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  As 2022 comes to a close, the Blueshirts are on a roll with the expectation to keep up these winning ways.

Things are finally starting to click.

To say that the Rangers are on a winning roll is almost an understatement.  The first few months of the 2022-23 NHL season have been very underwhelming for the Rangers and mired with disappointments and hollow defeats.  No, the Rangers aren’t a terrible team but an organization in search of its real identity so far this season.  The Rangers sit in the heart of the wild card race right now with a 16-10-5 overall record with a 6-3-1 record the last ten games.. The most exciting part of the recent Blueshirt record is that they have five wins in a row and right now are one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

One of the greatest reasons for the Rangers’ successful playoff run last season was based on the heroics of goaltender Igor Shesterkin.  However, this season hasn’t been as kind to Shesterkin but lately he’s been showing glimpses of his Vezina Trophy season from last year.  Shesterkin still has a 15-4-4 record when defending the pipes and an overall goals-against average of 2.45 and a save percentage of .917 which are solid but not spectacular numbers.  If Shesterkin can find more of his magic from last season, the Rangers’ defense should shore up their efforts and help continue the Blueshirt winning ways down the road.

The Rangers’ special teams have taken a different role this season and with a power play percentage of 23.57% and a penalty kill ratio of 80.7%, the Blueshirts sit in the upper tier of NHL teams so far this season.  What is interesting is how head coach Gerard Gallant is using his second power play unit lately to the Rangers advantage.  True Rangers’ fans may scratch their heads and say “do we have a second power play unit?”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 12: Filip Chytil #72 of the New York Rangers celebrates his game winning overtime goal against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2022 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Devils 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The answer to that question is a resounding yes and this second unit is making their presence known in recent games.  Going back to the Quinn era and continuing with Gerard Gallant, the first power play unit has taken essentially all of the man-advantage opportunities the last few seasons.  However, Gallant decided to start using his second unit consisting of Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kratsov and Jacob Trouba to great advantage.  Filip Chytil’s goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs this week is the first second power play unit goal from a forward in 131 games and that goal was long overdue as the Rangers beat the Maple Leafs 3-1.  Fans should expect more out of this man-advantage unit and as long as they stay togehter, maybe they can create some more magic as each games becomes more and more critical heading into 2023.

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