The Rangers must still believe in the spirt of Santa Claus because their Christmas wish is starting to come true and this 2022-23 season is finally looking bright for the Blueshirts. With the brief Christmas holiday hiatus in full force until tomorrow, it’s time to take stock in what’s gone right and what’s falling apart for the Rangers so far this year.
Where have the Rangers fallen short so far this season?
The Rangers have had many shortcomings early on this season so it’s really hard to specifically target one area that the Blueshirts were underwhelming early on in this campaign. With an 11-10-5 record heading into December, the Rangers began a fight for relevancy and started seeing their Stanley Cup playoff hopes starting to fade away before we even reach 2023. Promising defensemen like Zac Jones didn’t pan out and now finds himself in Hartford and the Rangers wonder if this experiment will ever work.
In terms of relative disappoints, you can add the early season record of backup goalie Jaroslav Halak to that list with a current 2-6-1 record and a 3.04 goals-against average and a .890 save percentage. On the surface, these aren’t necessarily horrible and some of those losses were not entirely Halak’s fault but bringing in the “Ranger Killer” hasn’t panned out so far this season.
The Rangers’ season is looking up heading into 2023.
With 35 games down, the Christmas break is a good gauge at seeing where a team’s at and right now the Rangers are finally starting to turn the corner on their season. The Blueshirts have a 19-11-5 record and are sitting on the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 43 points. The turning point for the Rangers may have been Jacob Trouba’s anger-laden meltdown on December 3rd against the Chicago Blackhawks and his apparent new career choice as a boxer but whatever it takes is whatever it takes from the man wearing the Blueshirt “C.”
Forward Jimmy Vesey has been a great turnaround story with his second stint with the Rangers. Vesey has traveled this road this season from a PTO contract in training camp with no guarantee he’d be on the team to a steady producer with six goals and six assists so far this season. Vincent Trochek has turned into another solid producer with 12 goals and 16 assists and has proven to be a good trade from this past summer. And of course netminder Igor Shesterkin is showing us why he was the Vezina Trophy winner last year and has turned back to his winning ways with a 17-5-4 record, a 2.44 goals-against average and a solid .916 save percentage to add to the cause.
It’s hard to really evaluate a teams’ future after only 35 games but the Christmas break gives us a glimpse of who’s hot and who’s not and the Rangers are starting to heat up just as we head into the “real” season starting in January. If the Blueshirts can continue their winning ways, there should be little question about them making the playoffs. If they slide back into their old ways earlier this season, other teams in the Metro Division will take every advantage of any Rangers’ misadvantures and force the Blueshirts to fight for their postseason lives. Stay tuned folks, it’s about to get real.