The New York Rangers have been close to perfect so far this season. Their 18-5-1 record stands as the best in the NHL, as the Blueshirts continue to impress night in and night out with continuous victories. This is certainly the most skilled Blueshirts team that fans have seen in many years.
With everything going so well for the Rangers, it’s hard to decipher any problems in the lineup. But there have been slight cracks- inklings of doubt- slowly revealing themselves across the span of the first 23 games. The Blueshirts have nothing to worry about right now as the top team in the league, but the throne they sit on may become fragile if a few factors are not eliminated for the remainder of the season.
The continuation of an injury pileup could deplete the Rangers’ roster
To begin the year, the Rangers have had to deal with an absurd amount of injuries. It began with Ryan Lindgren at the beginning of the season and has been followed by Adam Fox, Filip Chytil, Igor Shesterkin, Jonathan Quick, and now Kaapo Kakko.
Luckily, each injury was spread out enough not to cause a serious impact on the success of the team. The Blueshirts managed to fight through adversity and continue to win without some of their stars, and they continue to fight with Chytil and Kakko still on the IR. They’ve gotten lucky with both Vincent Trocheck and Jonny Brodzinski filling the holes in the lineup with ease in recent games.
This injury pile-up needs to be stopped immediately. There’s no blame to be put on any of the players, but if the season continues with many of the top players out at the same time, things may quickly take a turn for the worse.
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Elite regular season play doesn’t guarantee playoff success
Now 23 games into the season, the Rangers are on pace to make another playoff appearance at the end of this season. It’s obviously not guaranteed, but the odds are certainly in their favor. And with the regular season going so well for the Blueshirts, many fans around the league consider them to be early Stanley Cup contenders.
It’s important that elite regular season performances does not directly translate to playoff success. It happened last year to the Rangers, as many of their star players became shells of themselves once the postseason began. Artemi Panarin, who managed to record 92 points in the regular season last year, only managed to tally two in the first round. With him being on pace to have another career year, only time will tell if he’s able to keep it up in the playoffs.
The same concept goes for many of the other stars on the Rangers. Mika Zibanejad is another top player who had an abysmal performance last postseason, adding more evidence that things may not go as expected in the postseason.
It’s important for the Rangers to let go of the past and keep pushing through this season with high optimism. Panarin seems to have forgotten his past failures, as he looks like an entirely new player. While every fan of the Rangers hopes that this regular season success will carry on into the playoffs, it must be remembered that it’s not guaranteed. Take a look at the 2022-23 Boston Bruins, for example- They set an NHL record for the best regular season in history and then were quickly booted in the first round.