The New York Rangers and their fans can still look at the team and find many good things about the way the team has been playing. On Saturday night, the Rangers lost 5-2 to the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. Despite some turnovers and shaky defense, the Blueshirts did finish the week 2-1, which is about what many had realistically hoped for since losing to a first-place team that had won their last seven games in a row at home should not be totally unexpected.
The Young New York Rangers are Doing Many Things Well
So the reality that a lot of the fans and media will take is that because of last night’s loss, the Rangers “took a step backward,” or that the Rangers “stink” is just not based in reality. Right now, the Blues are just a better team than the Rangers. The Blues are probably just better than all of the teams in the NHL. So instead of pandering to the haters and Debby Downers, let’s take a look at some of the things that the Rangers have been doing well in recent games.
Artemi Panarin is good, but just how good has he been? Since Dec. 11, Panarin leads the NHL in points with 24. Entering last night’s game, he leads the NHL in even-strength points (47), even strength assists (29), 5-on-5 points (40), and 5-on-5 assists (26) this season. When he tallied his 60th point on Thursday, he became the first player in franchise history who has recorded 60 or more points in his first 43 career games with the Rangers. And finally, per NHL Stats and Information, when Panarin tallied his 59th point earlier in the week, he became tied for the most by a Ranger in his first 43 career games with the team. He was tied with Wayne Gretzky, who was a pretty decent player in his time.
But enough about Panarin. The younger Blueshirts are playing well. According to our friends at NHL Stats and Information, the Rangers lead the NHL in goals by players 21 years old or younger with 28 and points by players 21 years old or younger with 78. The includes players like Filip Chytil, who has tallied 11 goals this season in 35 games. This matches his total from last season in 75 games. He ranks third among NHL players 20 years old or younger in goals this season.
Even in last night’s loss, the Rangers’ two goals had been recorded by a player 21 years old or younger. In addition, Rangers’ players 21 years old or younger have recorded four of the team’s five points in that game (Chytil – two; Howden – one; Lindgren – one). Twenty-one-year-old Brett Howden has tallied six goals this season in 44 games, matching his total from the 66 games he played last season. There is a lot more, but you get the point. This is a good and improving young team, even if it may not be playoff ready. In reality, the only stinky, disappointing, and crushing loss last night happened in Baltimore.