For New York hockey fans, things cannot get any better. With all three area teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, what could be even more exciting right now? The answer can be found in the fact that the New York Rangers are playing the New Jersey Devils right out of the gate in the first round of the playoffs in what may promise to be some of the most exciting games in the postseason next week.
How did the Rangers finish up this NHL season?
The Rangers sat for most of the season comfortably in third place in the tough Metropolitan Division behind the Devils and the Carolina Hurricanes. However, there were scares early on as the Rangers were only 11-10-5 by early December and sputtering to make an impact on the ice. However, by the early new year, the Blueshirts were back on track and eventually finished the season with a solid 47-22-13 record and 107 points.
Even more impressive was the fact that the Rangers wrapped up the regular season with a 12-3-4 record since early March (despite losses this week to end the season.) While most hockey fans focused a lot of their attention on the Boston Bruins and their accomplishments this season, the Rangers wrapped up their campaign by going 33-0-0 when they led by four goals or more – the only NHL team to do so this year. When the Blueshirt scoring machine is in full force, they simply win games.
The Rangers have key weapons at their disposal.
To say that the Rangers are a goal-scoring machine is an understatement this season. With prolific offensive production from Mika Zibanejad (91 points, Artemi Panarin (92 points), and Adam Fox (72 points total), the Broadway Blueshirts know how to put the puck into their opponent’s net.
Another weapon that the Rangers continue to have is goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin was one of the key components of the Rangers’ success in the playoffs last year all the way through the Eastern Conference finals. Last year’s Vezina Trophy winner had another strong year with a 37-13-8 record and a sound 2.45 goals-against average, along with a .911 save percentage. Shesterkin will be backed up by veteran Jaroslav Halak who started the season slowly but eventually finished up with a 10-9-5 record and a good 2.72 goals-against average, and a .911 save percentage as well.
The only thing in this playoff round is certain- a New York area team will move on.
The New York Rangers will face an enormous challenge from the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Much credit is due to the Devils, who are coming off simply one of their best seasons ever as a franchise, and the Devils dominated the Blueshirst this season with a 3-0-1 record. This playoff matchup may very well be the matchup of the first round and should be a very entertaining best-of-seven challenge for both teams.