Rangers Look to Continue Strong Season into the Playoffs

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Chris Kreider and the Rangers are flying as they head towards the playoffs. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Allie Coppola, Staff Writer

With a 51-23-6 record as of April 27, the New York Rangers are sitting in second place in the Metropolitan Division with a playoff spot locked in. Lifted by exceptional goaltending performances from Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, the Blueshirts are ending the season on a high note and continue to heat up just in time for the postseason. 

After missing the playoffs last season, the team is primed to make a deep run for the Stanley Cup after crucial trade deadline additions that sparked the team over the last month. Forward Andrew Copp has proven himself as one of the top additions at the deadline with his hat trick on Thursday, and forward Frank Vatrano continues to make his presence known on the top line alongside forwards Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. General manager Chris Drury’s decision not to trade goalie Georgiev has worked out in his favor, as he’s won his last seven starts, shutting out teams in two of those seven games. Though the Rangers were a playoff-caliber team before the deadline, Drury’s decisions in March lifted them to a championship-caliber status. 

Among the Rangers standouts, forward Artemi Panarin leads the team in points, with 96 in only 74 games. Kreider has tallied 52 goals on the season, and defenseman Adam Fox contributed another career year at the blue line. Forward Alexis Lafrenière struggled early but broke out in the second half of the season, and will test his limits in his first career playoff games. Shesterkin had one of the best goaltending seasons in the history of the NHL, and is on track to win the Vezina Trophy, as well as possibly the Hart Trophy. Exceptional play from the Rangers’ stars ultimately led them to this playoff opportunity, and the strong second half of the season will hopefully lead to an inspiring run for the Stanley Cup. 

After a tough loss to the Boston Bruins on Sunday, the Rangers remained in second place among Metropolitan teams, with the Carolina Hurricanes breaking away from the Rangers in the standings after wins against the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders on Saturday and Sunday. The Blueshirts remain in contention for the number one spot, but they seem to be shaping up as the solid number two seed. At this spot, they would play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs, a team that they have beaten three times out of four this season. 

The rivalry between the two Metropolitan division teams continues to heat up, and came to a head in the last game they played as Shesterkin shut them out and theatrically waved them off the ice. If the standings shake out as expected, these two teams will play against each other in a must-watch series. The Rangers have clinched the home ice advantage, which will give them a chance to start the series hot against the playoff-experienced Penguins.

The Eastern Conference is packed with talent this season, with teams like the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the latter being the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. They look to defend the title and go for their third in three years, but the Florida Panthers seem to be the better overall team this season. They are the favorites in the East, but the Rangers have 

played relatively well against them this season, winning two of the three matchups. Against the Lightning, the Rangers have swept the season series three games to none. 

If the Rangers make a deep playoff run, there would be exciting matchups to witness. With a healthy mix of young players, veterans and superstars, the Blueshirts are one of the most exciting teams to watch as they heat up in time for the playoffs.