New York Rangers’ Centers Were Better Than Expected in 2019-20

New York Rangers

When people looked at the New York Rangers’ roster at the beginning of the season, the one big question most had was how would the guys who man the center of the ice perform this season? It was especially an important question given that the Rangers acquired Artemi Panirin in the off-season. While the jury is still out on the bottom two centers, the top centers met and even exceeded all expectations.

Mika Zibanejad was a nice fit with Chris Kreider

Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider and have turned in a massive offensive performance that has helped form one of the league’s best top-line duos this season. Zibanejad recorded 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games before the NHL paused and pandemic put this season on hold and put an end to the questions of whether the Rangers had a legitimate elite first-line center capable of going up and down the ice with the league’s best. Unfortunately, Zibanejad was on a roll, scoring 11 goals in the final six games, getting at least one in all of them. He’d scored 17 goals in the final 13 games and netted 23 goals in 22 games following the bye/All-Star break. Even though it seems like a really long time ago, it was just on March 5 when Zibanejad scored five goals against the Washington Capitals. Whenever the Rangers step on the ice next, the Zibanejad/Kreider duo should be reunited and should continue to be a force.

Ryan Strome was having a career year for the New York Rangers

Ryan Strome has played his best hockey since joining the New York Rangers in the middle of the 2018-19 season. Strome has recorded 92 points (36 goals, 56 assists) in 133 games with the Blueshirts while emerging this season as Artemi Panarin’s linemate. After the trade, he slumped offensively but broke out of it late in the season. He had 12 goals and 10 assists in the last 28 games of the season and even started getting playing time on the power play. Overall, he scored 18 goals and had 15 assists, while averaging 15:54 in time on ice per game in 63 games after being traded to the Rangers. This season, paired with Panarin, who has a knack for making everyone around him better, which has certainly been the case with Strome. Their line immediately formed chemistry and the all-around play of Strome and Fast has allowed Panarin to be aggressive offensively. Strome has developed into an important player for the Rangers and has had success on the power play and penalty kill, in addition to his strong play at even strength.

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