For all intents and purposes, the New York Rangers seem to be well on the road to the Stanley Cup playoffs and starting to solidify their lock on the third spot in the Metro Division. That being said, the Blueshirts certainly can use the upcoming All-Star break as a time to breathe again and try to get back fully on track with the rest of the season.
The Rangers currently sit with a 26-14-8 record and stay just two points ahead of the Washington Capitals in the tough and ultra-competitive Metro Division. With a 6-2-2 record in the last ten games, what could possibly go wrong in the near future for the Blueshirts? The answer is many things can easily start breaking down and with a little over 30 games left in the regular season, every point could make the difference between a regular playoff spot or having to fight for a wild card slot in the postseason.
Ranger power play woes still hanging around.
Ironically, the possible Achilles heel for the Rangers this season has been their inability to get things fired up on the power play. Whether it’s the first or second unit hasn’t made much difference but the fact remains that the Blueshirts sit 17th in the NHL with just a paltry 21.9% man-advantage percentage. In fact, the Rangers power play unit has only been successful on two out of the last 22 man-advantage opportunities which means that potential goal-scoring is being left on the ice. The Rangers may find other ways to score goals but giving away solid special teams chances could be a sign that the postseason may be short for the Rangers coming this spring.
The Blueshirts are starting to develop a revolving-door personnel system.
Forward Sammy Blais is currently on a two-week conditioning assignment down with Hartford in the AHL. He’s still getting his NHL salary and still part of the Rangers’ roster but any NHL veteran should know that a “conditioning assignment” in the minors is tantamount to a demotion. Yes, Blais should be back soon and will more than likely stay as the Rangers’ third line right winger but his assignment comes at the same time that the young, 6’3″, 211 pound winger Will Cuyle made his NHL debit this week in front of his hometown Toronto crowd against the Maple Leafs.
Cuyle led Hartford with 13 goals and his additional seven assists place him third in scoring for the Wolf Pack currently. With the recent extension of blueliner Ben Harpur through the 2024-25 season, players like Sammy Blais are now going to have to earn back a chance to make it back to a third or fourth line as the Rangers load up talent before the trade deadline on March 3rd.