Rangers: 3 things we learned from road trip sweep

New York Rangers players celebrate their overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets at Canada Life Centre

The New York Rangers have finished their Western Conference road trip with a perfect 5-0-0 record this season. It’s the first time in franchise history that the Blueshirts perfected an away stretch of at least five games or more, making it a historic one for the team.

During this road trip, the Rangers were overall solid. Some performances were shakier than others, but the Blueshirts still managed to find themselves returning home with a five-game win streak. Either way, this road trip was a valuable experience that taught the Blueshirts about what works in their lineup and what doesn’t.

The Rangers are going to have another big year on the road

Last season, the Rangers managed to finish the season with a better away record than their home record. Per StatMuse, the Blueshirts finished the 2022-23 season with a home record of 23-13-5. And although it’s only marginally better, the Rangers did end up with a slightly improved away record of 24-9-8.

The Rangers do not have many home games to start the season this year. Tonight’s matchup against Carolina is only their third home game of the year, and the Rangers are just 1-1 at MSG so far. Compare that to their current away record of 6-1, and it shows that the Blueshirts have seemingly remained as elite road performers.

Panarin is on pace for the best season of his career

Not only has Artemi Panarin scored at least one point in every game played this season, but he managed to record a total of ten points throughout this five-game road stretch. He’s looked dominant this season, and Panarin might be on pace to have the best season of his career.

Not only has his offensive production returned to form, but his defensive awareness and physicality have seen significant development under head coach Peter Laviolette. This new “defense first” system has elevated Panarin’s game to levels the Rangers have never seen before. Not only could Panarin possibly hit the 100-point mark for the first time in his career, but he could also make a strong push for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player.

The Rangers still need to work on their even strength goal scoring

Although this road trip wrapped up with a perfect record for the Rangers, their five performances were certainly not perfect. Some of the games were closer than others, as both Vancouver and Winnipeg were able to bring the Blueshirts to overtime.

Rangers’ forward Mika Zibanejad recently spoke about the Blueshirts’ highs and lows throughout the road trip:

“That was a big thing for us. Our highs were good. Our lows weren’t as low as maybe they’ve been in the past. I didn’t think we got that low at all during the road trip. The last two games weren’t as good as we wanted, but we did enough things good enough to win. It was a good team effort throughout.”

Mika Zibanejad via NHL.com

One major problem that was exploited on this road trip was the Rangers’ continuing issue of scoring at 5v5. Of the Rangers’ 28 total goals scored so far this season, only 16 have come at even strength. The power play is cooking and bringing the Blueshirts wins, but the 5v5 will need to improve in order to keep it up. Constant practice under Laviolette should bring change at some point, but it will take hard work from all of the Rangers’ forwards to put this problem to bed once and for all.

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