The New York Rangers have had a bit of a rocky start to the 2023-24 NHL season. They have alternated wins and losses through the first five games of the year, causing many fans to begin to panic. Although it’s still too early to make any significant judgments, either positive or negative, some of the Rangers’ statistics have looked incredible so far.
Many Rangers are playing at a point-per-game rate, and most are looking solid overall. Through five games played, two of the Blueshirts’ lines have found themselves in the top five for expected goals percentage. One of these lines has been heavily criticized, and these numbers provided a more positive outlook.
The Rangers’ first and third lines have been dominant so far this season
Per MoneyPuck.com, the Rangers’ third line of Will Cuylle, Vincent Trocheck, and Blake Wheeler currently ranks third overall league-wide in expected goals percentage. This is a surprising statistic, as Wheeler has received an abundance of criticism for not recording a single point through five games played. Cuylle has entered the NHL as an already dominant rookie, and Trocheck is doing his job to keep the line afloat.
The Rangers’ first line also ranks fifth overall in the NHL. Kaapo Kakko recently scored his first goal of the season against the Seattle Kraken, while Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad have been on a tear all season long.
Having half of the Rangers’ four offensive lines appear in the top five for expected goals is incredible. There have certainly been many flaws to start the season, but this appears to be one area of the game that is going well for the Blueshirts. While certain individual players need to make specific improvements, these numbers show that the Rangers are on the right path despite a mediocre record to start the year.
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Despite not making the list, the Rangers’ second line has been their best so far
The Rangers’ second line of Artemi Panarin, Filip Chytil, and Alexis Lafreniere has been incredible through five games played. Panarin currently leads the Rangers with seven points, and Chytil is playing just shy of a point per game. Lafreniere has collected the fewest points of this line with only two, but he’s still looked solid in every other aspect of the game.
The second line has easily been the best on the Rangers so far. It hasn’t looked the best in the Rangers’ two losses of the year, but when the Blueshirts win, it’s highly attributed to the second line.
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Peter Laviolette needs to stick to these lines long-term
There has not been a bad line for the Rangers so far this season. The numbers prove that the first and third lines are finding incredible success, and the second has looked elite as well. The fourth line hasn’t produced many points so far, but that has never been their true job when on the ice.
Before the regular season began, head coach Peter Laviolette said that the lines would not be set in stone to start the year. He would test out what worked and what didn’t, and then hopefully finalize them a few weeks into the year. But with his first experiment already catching fire, there really is no work for Laviolette to do regarding line combinations. He should take what has been excelling statistically and work upwards from here.