New York Rangers: 37-28-5 (79 pts.)
Carolina Hurricanes: 38-25-5 (81 pts.)
Venue: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, ON
Television: MSG, NBCSN, NHL.TV
New York Rangers hockey returns with the Blueshirts participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since losing to the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of the second round in 2017. Only seven players currently on the Rangers roster were also on the team’s roster during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Pavel Buchnevich, Jesper Fast, Chris Kreider, Henrik Lundqvist, Brendan Smith, Marc Staal, and Mika Zibanejad.
The Rangers were one of the hottest teams in the NHL prior to the NHL’s shutdown die to the COVID-19 virus in late March. From Jan. 7 until the end of the regular season, the Rangers ranked fourth in the NHL in wins (18), ranked fifth in the NHL in points (37), were tied for third in the NHL in regulation wins (15), ranked second in the NHL in goals per game (3.45) and power-play efficiency (28.4%), and ranked fifth in the NHL in shots on goal per game (32.8).
The Rangers’ 31 regulation wins this season were tied for the fifth-most in the NHL, tied for the third-most among Eastern Conference teams, and tied for the most among teams in the Metropolitan Division.
Finding the back of the net
The Rangers tallied 234 goals this season (including one team goal awarded for a shootout win) and averaged 3.33 goals per game. The Blueshirts ranked fifth in the NHL in goals per game in 2019-20. In addition, the Rangers averaged at least 3.33 goals per game in a season for the first time since 1993-94 (3.56) and recorded at least 234 goals through the first 70 games of a season for the first time since 1995-96 (242). Rangers players recorded 635 points this season (233 goals and 402 assists). The Rangers’ 402 assists were the second-most in the NHL and their 635 points were tied for the second-most in the NHL in 2019-20. The Blueshirts were one of two NHL teams that were not shut out in any game in 2019-20 (along with Tampa Bay).
Artemi Panarin (a Hart Trophy Finalist) led the team with 95 points. Mika Zibanejad was the teams leading goals scorer recording with 41 goals. Zibanejad was the only NHL player who recorded 15 or more power-play goals and three or more shorthanded goals in 2019-20.
Seven different Rangers registered 40 or more points this season (Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox). The Blueshirts were one of only three NHL teams that had seven players tally 40 or more points in 2019-20 (along with Tampa Bay and Washington).
In addition, the Rangers had at least two defensemen (Tony DeAngelo and Adam Fox) register 40 or more points in a season for the 20th time in franchise history and for the first time since 1993-94 (Brian Leetch and Sergei Zubov).
An Impressive rookie campaign
Defenseman Adam Fox had an outstanding rookie season for the club recording 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) and posting a plus-22 rating while skating in each of the Rangers’ 70 games in his rookie season in 2019-20. He was the first rookie who skated in each of the Rangers’ games in one season since Derek Stepan in 2010-11, as well as the first Rangers rookie defenseman who skated in each of the team’s games in one season since Tom Laidlaw in 1980-81. Fox’s 42 points this season were the fifth-most by a rookie defenseman in one season in Rangers history, trailing only Brian Leetch (71 in 1988-89), Reijo Ruotsalainen (56 in 1981-82), Ron Greschner (45 in 1974-75), and Mike McEwen (43 in 1976-77). In addition, his 34 assists were tied for the fourth-most by a Rangers rookie defenseman in one season in franchise history.
Standing tall in goal
The Rangers had three solid goaltenders throughout the season and were led by rookie Igor Shesterkin throughout the team’s rise in the standings in the second half of the season. Shesterkin ended the regular season with a 10-2 record, along with a 2.52 GAA and a .932 SV% in 12 appearances with the Rangers this season. Shesterkin’s .932 SV% during the season was the second-best among NHL goaltenders who made at least 10 appearances in 2019-20.
Henrik Lundqvist is the Rangers’ all-time leader in several categories, including playoff appearances (128), playoff wins (61), and playoff shutouts (10). Lundqvist has appeared/started in each of the Blueshirts’ last 127 playoff games, dating back to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against New Jersey in 2006.
This season he posted a 10-12-3 record and was the Rangers’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy this season, and he is also the Blueshirts’ nominee for the King Clancy Trophy in 2019-20.
Alexandar Georgiev Alexandar Georgiev established career-highs in several categories in 2019-20, including wins (17), appearances (34), and games started (32), and he led Rangers goaltenders in all three categories. He posted a 13-5-1 record and a .921 SV% in 19 road appearances/starts this season, and he tied for fifth in the NHL in road wins in 2019-20. In addition, Georgiev won 13 games this season in which he made 30 or more saves, and his 13 30-save wins were tied for the sixth-most in the NHL during the season.
The Rangers either outscored their opponent on special teams or tied their opponent in special teams scoring in 46 of 70 games this season and earned at least one point in 33 of those 46 games (30-13-3 record).
- The Rangers ranked seventh in the NHL in power-play efficiency (22.9%) and ranked fourth in the NHL in power-play goals (52) this season.
- The Blueshirts had a power-play efficiency of 22.9% or better in a season for the first time since 1993-94 (23.0%).
- The Blueshirts recorded at least 52 power-play goals in a season for the first time since 2009-10 (55).
- The Rangers ranked fifth or higher in the NHL in power-play goals for the first time since 1998-99.
- From the NHL’s Holiday Break (Dec. 27) until the end of the season, the Rangers had the best power play efficiency in the NHL (29.3%) and tallied the most power-play goals in the NHL (29).
- New York posted a 24-11-2 record when tallying at least one power-play goal in a game in 2019-20.
- The Blueshirts tied for sixth in the NHL in shorthanded goals this season (eight).
- From Nov. 23 through Feb. 19, the Rangers’ 84.8% penalty kill efficiency was the third-best in the NHL.
- The Rangers posted a 25-9-1 record when not allowing a power-play goal against in a game in 2019-20.
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Paval Buchnevich
Artemi Panarin-Ryan Strome- Jesper Fast
Philip Di Giuseppe- Filip Chytil-Kaapo Kakko
Brett Howden- Greg McKegg-Julien Gauthier
Brendan Lemieux will be suspended for the first two games of the Qualifying Round.
Extras – Steven Fogarty, Tim Gettinger, Vitali Kravtsov, Vinni Lettieri, and Danny O’Regan.
Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox
Brendan Smith and Jacob Trouba
Marc Staal and *Tony DeAngelo
Extras – Brandon Crawley, Libor Hájek, and Darren Raddysh.
Friday afternoon NHL.Com’s Dan Rosen tweeted
David Quinn said the Rangers will announce their goalie before the game tomorrow. He also said Tony DeAngelo didn't practice today and is a gametime decision. Marc Staal practiced today and is fine.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) July 31, 2020
Libor Hajek will step In for DeAngelo should he be unable to play in game 1.
Extra– Alexandar Georgiev