After struggling through the first several weeks of the season, the New York Rangers have found their game at the right time and are beginning to look like serious Stanley Cup contenders.
The Rangers have won three straight games, outscoring their opponents 15-5 in those three games. Not only did they dominate the opposition in those games, but they also gained six crucial points that have them in a comfortable spot heading into the last few weeks of the season.
As of this writing (Saturday, March 18th), the Rangers are third in the Metropolitan Division and sixth in the NHL with a 40-19-10 record and 90 points. Thanks to their three-game winning streak, the Rangers are also three points behind the New Jersey Devils for third in the division and eight points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for first.
There are several reasons why the Blueshirts are playing some of their best hockey right now. It starts with the play of their All-Star goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
Shesterkin, 27, has had an up-and-down season this year, but in the last week or so, he has looked like last year’s version of Shesterkin, the one who won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender. Thanks to his consistent performance this week, he is currently 32-11-0-7 with a 2.57 goals-against average, a .912 save percentage, and two shutouts.
This is what Shesterkin did over the last week:
- March 11th against the Buffalo Sabres: Stopped 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 overtime victory.
- March 14th against the Washington Capitals: Stopped 28 of 31 shots in a 5-3 victory.
- March 16th against the Penguins: Stopped 30 of 32 shots in a 4-2 victory.
- March 18th against the Penguins: 34-save shutout.
The team is also starting to get solid play from newcomers Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane. If the Rangers are going to have success in the postseason, these two will need to be key contributors.
Tarasenko, 31, has 11 points in 17 games with the team since coming over from the St. Louis Blues. He seems to have found some chemistry playing with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad.
Kane, 34, has eight points in seven games since being traded to the team by the Chicago Blackhawks. He still needs to shoot the puck more, but that will hopefully come in time as he gets more comfortable playing with the club.
The Rangers are getting strong play from Mika Zibanejad. He seems to produce night in and night out, as he is currently second on the team in points with 75 on 36 goals and 39 assists.
What is also good for the Rangers is that Chris Kreider is starting to find the back of the net more consistently. He has 31 goals on the season, including three in his last four games.
Speaking of putting the puck in the net, Panarin is starting to shoot the puck more; because of that, he is scoring more goals. He now has 22 goals to go along with 55 assists and 77 points this year.
With just four weeks left to go in the regular season, the Rangers should continue to focus on doing everything they can to finish it out in a strong fashion. If they can do that, things could get really exciting for the Blueshirts, and their fans come April.