Opinion: Why Winning The Cup Is a Reality for the Blueshirts

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The New York Rangers have been in this position before.

The team won the Presidents’ Trophy, the Metropolitan Division (in previous years it was the Atlantic Division and Patrick Division), and a few playoff rounds. It ended in heartbreak in 1992 when the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Rangers in six in the second round and it ended in euphoria in 1994 when the team won their first Cup in 54 years.

30 years later, the Blueshirts find themselves back in the Eastern Conference Finals and eight wins away from capturing hockey’s Holy Grail. It will not be an easy task to get to the Stanley Cup Final as they will face the Florida Panthers to get there.

With that said, this might be the year that the Blueshirts silence all the critics and get to the top of the NHL mountain as Cup champs. Let’s take a look at why this is the best chance the Rangers have had in a long time to play for the Cup.

The team’s best offensive players are coming through
Through two rounds, the Rangers’ offense is more than getting the job done.

As of this writing, the Rangers have scored 35 goals, which is good for sixth in the league during the postseason. They are averaging over three goals per game despite struggling to generate a lot of offense at even strength.

The team’s best players are producing at a high level. Players like Vincent Trocheck (14 points), Mika Zibanejad (14 points), Artemi Panarin (11 points), Chris Kreider (10 points), and Alexis Lafreniere (10 points) have all stepped up when it matters most and have built on their strong regular seasons.

While the Rangers are not exactly struggling to find the back of the net, their offensive numbers could be even better if they start throwing more pucks on the net.

The team’s defense has stymied their opponents
Out of the remaining teams in the postseason, the Rangers have been the best team defensively.

The team has allowed just 26 goals through their first ten games in these playoffs. They block shots, clear rebounds, play a physical brand in their zone, and are smart with the puck.

One area that the Rangers need to work on before facing the Panthers is the number of shots that they give up. In these playoffs, the Rangers are allowing close to 33 shots per game, which is the number of shots that their next opponent puts on net per game.

Igor Shesterkin has been magnificent between the pipes
Just like in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2022, the Rangers will be involved in a battle between two great Russian goaltenders in their upcoming series when they take on Panthers’ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

With that said, there is no doubt that Rangers’ goaltender Igor Shesterkin has been one of the best goaltenders in these playoffs. He is currently 8-2 with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

Shesterkin, 28, was especially good against the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes peppered the Rangers’ netminder, but he was able to come up with the big save time and time again to help propel his team to the next round.

Should Shesterkin continue to play this way, we may see him look like Mike Richter lifting the Cup come sometime in June.

Their Power Play is Clicking on all cylinders
The Rangers’ power play is a force to be reckoned with.

The team has converted on 31.4 percent of the power play opportunities they have been given so far. When you have a roster with players like Kreider (two power-play goals), Panarin (one power-play goal), Trocheck (four power-play goals), Adam Fox, and Mika Zibanejad (two power-play goals), it is easy to see why the puck is going in so easily for them.

When the Rangers won the Cup in 1994, their power play was world-class. They had players like Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Sergei Zubov, Adam Graves, Alexei Kovalev, and Steve Larmer, and boy, did the puck ever find the back of the net.

The Rangers have that kind of lethal power play right now. As long as it continues to click, the Cup will be within their grasp.

The team’s penalty kill is a force to be reckoned with
The Rangers penalty kill has been outstanding this postseason.

As of this writing, the team is second in the league in that category. They have killed off 89.3 percent of the penalties they have taken so far.

Besides having Shesterkin help kill penalties, the team does a good job of blocking shots, clearing the puck out of the zone, and not giving the opposition a lot of zone time. The Rangers have even managed to score four shorthanded goals so far.

With Shesterkin, disciplined play, and their ability to pounce on loose pucks, the team’s penalty kill is very dangerous and is a threat to create offense of their own.

Overall
As mentioned above, it has been 30 years since the Blueshirts last won the Cup. Based on how things went after that moment, many wondered whether it would be another lifetime until the team won it again.

Do not look now, but the Rangers are just eight wins away and might get it done this year. They have the timely offense, the sound defense, the great goaltending, and the terrific special teams all pushing them closer to hockey’s ultimate goal, a goal that might end up being accomplished in a few weeks.

In this week's episode, we have on guest HockeyStatMiner to discuss NYR's Salary cap situation, potential moves and more.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Guest HockeyStatMiner
  2. Many Directions, One Goal
  3. A Heartbreaking End, Offseason Begins
  4. Game 5 Recap : Guest Joe Fortunato
  5. Game 4 Recap : Breakout Breakdown

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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