New York Rangers move on to Round 2 with Overtime win

The New York Rangers completed another comeback defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime on Artemi Panarin’s power-play goal.

The New York Rangers didn’t want their season to end.  In order to get that done, they would need to complete another comeback in this series and for the 30th time this season, the Blueshirts did just that as they went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime when Artemi Panarin scored the winning power-play goal at 4:46 of the extra stanza.

The win sends the Blueshirts to the second round of the playoffs where they will play the Carolina Hurricanes with game 1 on Wednesday in Raleigh, NC.

Not Looking Good

Things were not looking promising late in the third period with the Blueshirts down a shorthanded goal scored by Evan Rodrigues with just ver three minutes left in the second period. The Rangers were only able to strange four shots on goal prior to Mika Zibanejad (3G) scoring the tying goal at 13:15 of the third period.

When the third period concluded, the two teams were deadlocked 3-3 heading into overtime with the series outcome on the line.

The Rangers were awarded an early rare OT power play when the Penguins Brock McGinn held defenseman K’Andre Miller as he drove to the net. At the time the Ranges were 0-3 with the man advantage, but that didn’t deter the 18,000 plus fans who were all standing on their feet waiting to blow the roof off the Garden if they could connect on the power-play.

Artemi Panarin, who struggle for most of the game and the series as a whole, scored to the gloves side of Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, over his glove, to send the Rangers to the second round of the NHL Playoffs.

Panarin realized his poor round and his decision not to shoot the ouch when he had quality scoring chances speaking through a translator following the win.

“I don’t really score that many goals, so I’d say all of them are pretty, pretty big, honestly, [my teammates have] been letting me shoot since the first game. Kind of my bad, I haven’t really been making those shots, but maybe I should listen to everyone’s advice and actually get out there and take shots.”

Panarin had three goals in the seven-game series, but none were bigger than his winner on Sunday night.

Chris Kreider put the Rangers on the scoreboard first, but the Penguin’s power-play and penalty kill had earned them the 3-2 lead before Zibanejad tied the game. The Pens were 2-5 with the man advantage and 1-4 on the penalty kill along with a shorthanded goal by Rodrigues in the second period.

Zibanejad’s tying the goal with 5:45 remaining in regulation marked the first time in franchise history a Rangers player has tied a Game 7 in the final 10 minutes of the third period.

Defenseman K’Andre Miller netted an unassisted goal at 11:23 of the second period which even the game 2-2. It was his first NHL playoff goal which tied the game 2-2. Zibanejad had two assists as did Andrew Copp

Igor Shesterkin made 42 saves and went 4-2 in seven starts with a 3.67 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in the series despite being pulled in both game 3 and game 4. Shesterkin recorded 255 saves in seven games, the most in a single series by a Rangers goaltender (since 1955-56 when the League began officially tracking shots on goal). Shesterkin is the third Rangers goaltender (Mike Richter, John Vanbiesbrouck) to post a win in his first career Game 7 and is now the youngest Rangers goaltender to win his first career Game 7 (26 years, 136 days).

During the post-game presser, Zibanejad discussed the euphoria that occurred when Panarin clinched the victory,

“I don’t think I’ve heard this building louder than ‘Artie’s’ OT goal, “I could not hear what I was thinking. … We didn’t want the season to end. I think this has been our team all year.”

The Rangers had trailed in the series 3-1 but found a way to come back and win the best of seven series 4-3. The team trailed in each of the last three games, but found the will to battle back and win each contest. With Sunday’s win, they became the first team in Stanley Cup Playoff history to record three consecutive comeback wins in elimination games within the same series.

Defenseman Adam Fox Adam Fox is the 4th defenseman in NHL history with at least one point in all 7 games of a playoff series. Fox Joins Miro Heiskanen (2020 Dallas Stars), Larry Murphy (1995 Pittsburgh Pens), and Paul Reinhart (1984 Calgary Flames). Fox is the first New York Ranger to accomplish this feat.

 

Game Notes (via NYR PR)

  •  New York won a series after trailing 3-1 for the third time in team history (2015 R2 vs. WSH, 2014 R2 vs. PIT) after coming into these playoffs with a 2-18 series record when trailing 3-1. The Rangers won three of four games in comeback fashion.
  • Kreider scored his 29th career playoff goal to surpass Adam Graves, Ron Duguay,
  • Braden Schneider (20 years, 237 days) became the youngest player in Rangers history to record a point (A) in a Game 7, besting Alex Kovalev (21 years, 110 days) in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. and Brian Leetch and pull into a tie with Mark Messier for second place in franchise history behind Rod Gilbert (34).
  • Ryan Strome tallied his fifth assist of the playoffs to give him points in six of seven games this series.

What’s Next?

On Wednesday, the Rangers visit the Carolina Hurricanes for Game 1 of Round 2.

Wednesday, May 18 @Carolina 7 p.m.
Friday, May 20 @Carolina 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 22 @New York 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 24 @New York 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 26 @Carolina TBD*
Saturday, May 28 @New York TBD*
Monday, May 30 @Carolina TBD*

Follow Frank Curto on Twitter at @RangerProud

Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin named finalist for Hart Trophy

The accolades for New York Rangers goalie Igor Shgesterkin are impressive with the announcement that he is a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin has been named a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the award presented annually “to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.”

The Moscow, Russia native posted historic numbers in 2021-22, becoming the third goaltender in NHL history (min. 50 appearances) to post a save percentage of .935 or higher in a single season. He joined Tim Thomas (2010-11 – .938) and Dominik Hasek (1998-99 – .937) in reaching the feat. Shesterkin went 36-13-4 and led the league with a 2.07 goals-against-average and .935 save percentage. It is the 39th time since the league began tracking save percentage in 1955-56, that a goaltender has led the NHL in both save percentage and GAA.

Shesterkin, 26, is the second Ranger in the past three seasons to be named a finalist for the Hart Trophy (Artemi Panarin – 2019-20) and the fifth Rangers goaltender in team history to be named a finalist for the award.

Igor Shesterkin eyes to become the second Ranger goaltender to capture the Hart Memorial Trophy (Chuck Rayner in 1949-50) and just the third netminder on any team to do so this century, following Carey Price in 2014-15 and Jose Theodore in 2001-02.

Past Ranger Goalies Named Finalists for the Hart Trophy;

          2021-22 – Igor Shesterkin

          2011-12 – Henrik Lundqvist

          1966-67 – Ed Giacomin

          1955-56 – Gump Worsley

          1949-50 – Chuck Rayner* Won award in 1949-1950

 

Austin Mathews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Connor Mcdaid of the Edmonton Oilers were also named finalists for the Hart Trophy.

Matthews led the NHL in goals (60), the most ever in a season by a Toronto Maple Leafs player and most by a United-States-born player in a season.

McDavid led the NHL in scoring for the second straight season with 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists) in 80 games for the Edmonton Oilers and is a two-time winner of the award.

Shersterkin was also named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last week.

The winners of the 2022 NHL Awards will be revealed during the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, with exact dates, format and times to be announced.

Follow Frank Curto on Twitter at @RangerProud

Rangers’ ‘Kids’ line gives team hope heading into Game 6

The New York Rangers live to play another day thanks to the fearless play of Alexi Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, and Kappo Kakko, A.K.A. the “Kids” Line.

With the New York Rangers down 2-1 late in the second period, head coach Garrard Gallant put out the line that has been the heartbeat in an otherwise disappointing playoff.

The Kid’s line grinded and battled in the corners, forechecking and refusing to get pushed off of the puck. It resulted in a magnificent pass from kakko to Lafreniere who buried the pass.  The crowd went crazy, the game was tied thanks to the three former first-round picks who have found the chemistry the Blueshirts were missing.

“We believe in our group,” Lafreniere said. ” We were down 3-1 (in the series) but I think we weren’t playing that bad. Played a really good one tonight when we needed it the most, so it was a really good team effort.”

A. late 2-0 deficit turned into a 3-3 2nd intermission tie.  The Ranger knew that has to win the third period in order to get to a game six in Pittsburgh.  The “Kid’s” attitude to play hard against whomever the Penguins put out there at that time was infectious throughout the lineup.

In the third period, Filip Chytil scored his first NHL Playoff goal with the man advanatge.

“It was just some bounce there,” Chytil said. “I don’t even know how it gets to me but probably the whole season I didn’t score many goals (eight in 67 regular-season games), so not thinking too much with the chances, and now I just close my eyes and just shoot and score a goal finally. I was so happy to help the team.”

The Rangers took a 4-3 lead eventually winning the game 5-3. Most importantly they take some momentum with them for Friday’s must-win game.

The Kids Doing Their Job

In five games this postseason, Alexis Lafrenière (2G-2A), Filip Chytil (1G-1A), and Kaapo Kakko (1G-1A) have combined for eight points. Lafreniere scored his second goal of the playoffs, before adding an assist. Lafrenière became the fourth different player in Rangers history to score in consecutive playoff games at age 20 or younger. The others: Don Maloney (3 GP & 2 GP in 1979), Steven Rice (2 GP in 1991), and Mike Allison (2 GP in 1981). Lafrenière has two goals and two assists for four points in five games.

Chyti’sl goal was his fifth career power-play goal and sixth career game-winning tally.

Kakko collected his second career playoff point with an assist, giving him a goal and an assist in his past three games.

Lafreniere played 16:20 on Wednesday night thanks to the team going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.  Lafreniere double shifted in the fourth line alongside Ryan Reaves and Kevin Rooney.

Gallant stood stand fest on not changing his line combinations last night. For last night he was correct n that decision. The Kids finished their checks, drove to the net to cause confusion on the Penguin’s end of the ice, and at the end of it all found a way to give the Rangers another hockey game with a chance for a game seven at MSG on Sunday.

 

Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin nominated for the Vezina Trophy

The NHL anounced their three finalists for the Vezina Trophy with New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin nominated for the first time in his young career.

New York Rangers goalie Igor Shestrekin is one of three finalists nominated for the Vezina Trophy. The trophy is presented annually “to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position” and is voted on by the general managers of the NHL’s 32 teams.

Shesterkin, 26, is the first Rangers goaltender since Henrik Lundqvist in 2012-13 to be named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. Lundqvist was a runner-up that season in his bid for back-to-back Vezina Trophy wins. If Shesterkin were to take home the award, he would become the sixth Ranger to do so and join Henrik Lundqvist (2011-12), John Vanbiesbrouck (1985-86), Ed Giacomin & Gilles Villemure (1970-71), and Dave Kerr (1939-40). (via NYR PR)

Shesterkin posted a 36-13-4 record with a league-leading 2.07 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage.

  • Shesterkin’s .935 save percentage was The highest single-season save percentage in Rangers history among goaltenders who made 30 or more appearances.
  • Among goaltenders who played 50 or more games, Shesterkin had the third-highest save percentage in NHL history behind Tim Thomas (2010-11 – .938) and Dominik Hasek (1998-99 – .937).
  • Among NHL goaltenders in 2021-22, Shesterkin’s 36 wins ranked sixth and his six shutouts ranked third. His 36 wins were tied for the seventh-most by a Rangers goaltender in a single season throughout team history.
  • Shesterkin had a .900 save percentage in 75 percent of his starts this season, the highest rate in the NHL (min. 20 starts).

The other finalists for the award are Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom and Nashville’s Juuse Saros.

The winners of the 2022 NHL Awards will be revealed during the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, with exact dates, format and times to be announced.

Rangers can’t keep up with Penguins weapons as team faces elimination Wednesday

Plenty has gone wrong for the New York Rangers in the first four games of this best of seven series.  It could be too late for the Blueshirts to adjust to the multiple advantages the Penguins have displayed compiling a 3-1 lead.

The body language was all that was needed when looking at the New York Rangers last night as the second period concluded.  They were beaten down mentally, by the Penguin’s speed, in goal by a shell shocked Igor Shesterkin and behind the bench, where Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has outdueled Gerrard Gallant in the four games played to this point.

How did things get so bad so fast? Believe it or not, it began at the end of the regular season when the Rangers dropped three out of the last four regular-season games, and including the playoffs, they have now lost six out of the last eight games they have played.

Penguin’s Top Line Outperforming the Ranger’s Number 1 Unit

There is a huge discrepancy between the team’s two top lines. For the Penguins, the line of Guentzel-Crosby-Rust has been a force to deal with for the Rangers.

The Pen’s top line has combined for 20 points and eight goals. Sidney Crosby leads the team with nine points (2G) followed by Guentzel with six points (5G) and Rust with five points (2G).

The Ranger’s numbers one line has combined for 12 points even distributed with four points each for Kreider, Zibaenjad, and Vatrano.  Kreider has netted two goals as has Vatrano. Zibanejad is still looking for his first goal of the playoffs with the team heading into game five Wednesday night.

Artemi Panarin leads the team with five points (2G) and Andrew Copp has the lead in goals scored with three.

The absence of Barclay Goodrow is unmeasurable for the team.  His injury, the second in two weeks, has changed the dynamic of the fourth line. The coaching staff recognized this with the substitution of John Brodzinski for Dylan Hunt. The only lineup change from game three went pretty much unnoticed.

Goodrow is expected to be out the remainder of this series and then he will be re-evaluated.

What Defense?

The Defense has probably played its worse four-game set than at any time this season.  Ryan Lindgren has missed theist three games and it’s causing the coaching staff fits while the Penguins seem to be having their way with the Rangers.

It’s best to address the elephant in the room, Patrick Nemeth has struggled mightily in this series. He has taken four minor penalties, had a turnover in game three that resulted in theme winning goal being scored (albeit a soft goal by Alexandar Georgiev), and has not looked comfortable on the ice against the speed of the Penguins have shown.

Adam Fox has been unable to show much offensive spark since Lindgren was injured. He has been paired with Justin Braun, and the two have done fair considering the borage of play in their own end.

The Trouba/Miller pairing is the only pairing intact from the regular season and has not been at their top-level themselves.  Turnovers, missed shots, and checking assignments have been the par for the course up to this point and this pairing has been no exception.

Igor Shesterkin was pulled again on Monday night. He has given up 10 goals in the three periods he has appeared in this playoff.  He has a 4.25 GAA along with a .905 save percentage.

His struggle is real but the team defense has hung him out to dry for most of the series. Surprisingly he has not looked comfortable in goal aside from the game two win.

For those who may believe there could be a goalie controversy brewing, Gallant put that issue to bed during last night’s presser,

“He’ll be back in there ready to win on Wednesday”

The Rangers find their backs against the wall now.  Down 3-1, they will need to win the next three games in order to advance to round two.  A tough task to endure with so many issues in front of them.

Defenseman Jacob Trouba talked about the next game in front of the team following Monday’s loss,

“I don’t think you’re going to find a guy who’s happy with that performance,” Jacob Trouba said. “There’s really not a whole lot to say passed that. I think we know we’ve got to be better, to a man. We’re going to show up to Game 5, put that behind us and be ready to play.”

 

Follow Frank Curto on Twitter at @RangerProud

New York Rangers HC Gerrad Gallant’s message to team ‘Move On’ with Game 2 Thursday night

After an epic triple-overtime loss on Tuesday night New York Rangers head coach, Gerrard Gallant has a simple message for his team, “Move On”.

The New York Rangers didn’t practice on Wednesday following their game one, triple-overtime defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Instead, head coach Gerard Gallant held a media session, along with some player availability, displaying confidence, and calm which shows why his players respect him so much. There was no panic in his voice, no threats of things would change for game two but instead, he told the media and all that were listening what he expects of his team Thursday night.

“Move on, get ready for the next one”, was the message he told his players. The head coach, in his first playoff series behind the Rangers bench, went on to say, “It was a battle last night. We got the short end of the stick, but it’s one game so you’ve got to move on. No big deal. We would have loved to have won it, but we’ve got to battle back and win the next one. Last night it was tough, no doubt, the game is over and you lose in six periods and you lose your home ice a little bit. But we still believe we’re a real good team. We still believe we’re going to win this series. Tomorrow night is a big game for us now.”

That confidence is a breath of fresh air that has not been seen or heard in several past seasons.

The team recognizes what went wrong after the first 25 minutes of the game, in which their speed and physicality enabled the team to build a 2-0 lead early in the second period. The wheels fell off the bus after that with the Penguins outshooting the Rangers 25-8 in that second period.

Defenseman Adam Fox, who logged 44:28 of ice time while scoring a power-play goal, talked about what went wrong against a good Penguins team,

“We’ve talked about it, that first period we were real good and even at the start of the second and the tide kind of turned there,” defenseman Adam Fox said. “I think we let the game get away from us there. It’s definitely a lesson to be learned. They had 25 shots in the second period and it’s tough to hold a lead when you’re giving up that many shots, that many chances.”

Echoing a similar view of what the Penguins did so well, Gallant wants the team to focus on the style of play they demonstrated in the first portion of the game and at the same time keep the Pens away from what made them successful on Tuesday.

“Once we started letting them go ‘D’-to-‘D’ across the ice, then the game opened up and that’s not where we want to play,” Gallant said. “We have to be quicker on the forecheck. Puck management hurt us probably halfway through the second. Instead of driving the net and getting pucks behind their defensemen, we started making plays in the high slot and they were broken up and then they started going the other way.”

The Blueshirts look to implement their coach’s message for game 2 Thursday night at MSG.

Ranger’s look for answers after epic performance by Igor Shesterkin is wasted in Game 1 loss

The New York Rangers game one loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins was a result of a horrid second period that the team could not overcome physically or mentally.

The New York Rangers‘ loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in triple overtime last night will be forgotten the next time the Blueshirts hit the ice. What shouldn’t be forgotten was the total collapse the team suffered allowing the Pens to battle back from two leads in the second period.

A 1-0 first intermission lead for the Rangers turned to 2-0 early in the second period when Andrew Copp scored at 3:08 of the period.  The Penguins then found another gear, heck another two gears, and dominated play putting  Rangers on their heels and in their zone for almloost the whole period.

Poor 2nd Period costs lead

Pittsburgh put 18 shots on Igor Shesterkin in the first 12 minutes of the second period and tied the game at 2-2 at on two Jake Guentzel goals before the halfway mark of that period.  The Pens would take 25 shots, scoring three goals, with the third period ending tied 3-3.

The stellar play of Igor Shestrkin was the only reason this game was close making as he made 79 saves in the loss. The 79 saves were the second-most in NHL history (Joonas Korpisalo made 85 saves for the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Lightning in Game 1 of the 2020 first round, won by the Lightning 3-2 in the fifth overtime).

Shesterkin surpassed the 56 saves performance from Gump Worsley (April 5, 1962) for the most in franchise history.

Center  Ryan Strome acknowledged the caliber of play by Shesterkin following the loss,

“I mean, he made like 80 saves or whatever it was, so obviously he was good,”  “He’s done it all year. Our best player, and he showed it tonight. He [did] everything he had to do, and we couldn’t get one for him obviously.”

Head coach Gerrard Gallant, coaching his first playoff game with the Rangers, liked what he saw early on in the game

“Great game by two teams, thought the first 25 minutes we were real good, dominated that part of the game and then they come back in the second and they played really well after that. It was one of those games, three overtime periods, it’s tough to lose like that, but you get back on the horse and get ready for the next game.”

The club played a textbook first period, but somewhere after they scored their second goal, they took their foot off the pedal and it probably cost them a victory.

“I think we learned a lesson a little bit in the second period,” said Ryan Strome, who set up Andrew Copp for the one-timer in the slot for the two-goal lead. “When you’re up 2-0, you like to think that you can shut them down a little more, but they clawed back in so. It’s tough to remember the second period, it feels like so long ago, but I thought we battled hard. We did a lot of good things.

Many believe the Rangers overturned goal by Filip Chytil late in the third was the reason the team lost game one. In reality, the loss could be attributed because the team was unable to sustain the forecheck and hitting they displayed in the first period along with some poor shooting decisions in the overtime.

Game two is Thursday night and as the head coach said, it’s time to get back on the horse.

Notes

  • The status of Ryan Lindgren is unknown for Thursday’s game. He is listed as suffering from an LBI.
  • Igor Shesterkin made 79 saves on 83 shots, the second-most saves in NHL history behind Joonas Korpisalo (CBJ) on August 11, 2020, against Tampa Bay. His save total surpassed the 56 saves from Gump Worsley (April 5, 1962) for the most in franchise history.

  •    Chris Kreider scored his first career playoff shorthanded goal a part of his seventh career multi-point playoff game (1G-1A). Kreider’s shorthanded goal was his 30th special-team tally of 2021-22 (regular season and playoffs combined) – the highest combined total in a season since Eric Staal had 30 with the Hurricanes in 2005-06 en route to a Stanley Cup win. Kreider scored his 53rd combined goal of the season. Only three players in Rangers history recorded a higher combined total in a single campaign: Adam Graves (62 in 1993-94), Vic Hadfield (57 in 1971-72), and Jaromir Jagr (54 in 2005-06). Kreider’s goal, his 25th, surpassed Steve Vickers for the sixth most playoff goals in franchise history. Kreider’s 41 career playoff points rank tied for 15th in Rangers history.

  •    K’Andre Miller led the Rangers with 45:08 minutes of time on ice, the third-highest TOI in franchise history behind Ryan McDonagh (53:17) and Marc Staal (49:34) – both on May 2, 2012, at Washington.

  •   Mika Zibanejad notched two assists for his fourth career playoff multi-assist effort and first since April 29, 2017, against Ottawa. Zibanejad has 20 career playoff points (5G-15A).

  •   Adam Fox opened the scoring for New York with his first career playoff goal/point. It marked the ninth time in franchise history that a defenseman scored the team’s first goal of the postseason and the first since Matt Gilroy in Game 1 of the 2011 Conference Quarterfinals. Fox became the third reigning James Norris Memorial Trophy winner to contest at least one playoff game with the Rangers, following Doug Harvey (1961-62 Norris; 0-1—1 in 1963 SCP, 6 GP) and Harry Howell (1966-67 Norris; 1-0—1 in 1968 SCP, 6 GP). Fox (Jericho, N.Y.) became the fourth New York-born player in franchise history to score a playoff goal for the Rangers, following Ryan Callahan (14 G), Brian Mullen (2 G), and Matt Gilroy (1 G).

  •   Andrew Copp scored his fourth career playoff goal, giving him a combined nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points in 17 total games with New York. Copp is appearing in the playoffs for a fifth-straight season after spending the last four playoff seasons with Winnipeg.

  •  Ryan Strome tallied an assist, giving him three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 19 career playoff games between the Islanders and Rangers. Strome led the Rangers with eight shots on goal, tied for his career-high in the regular season and playoffs.

  • Jacob Trouba notched his sixth career playoff assist and second as a Ranger. (via NYR PR)

Follow Frank Curto on Twitter at @RangerProud.

New York Rangers Vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: First Round preview

The New York Rangers are back in the playoffs for the first time in five years and will begin round one against a familiar foe in the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

New York Rangers: 52-24-6, 110 points

Pittsburgh Penguins: 46-25-11, 103 points

Season Results: NYR 3-1-0; PIT 1-3-0

It has been five long years since the New York Rangers have played in a playoff game.  Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad are the only remaining Blueshirts who were on the team that won their last postseason game, a 4-1 against the Ottawa Senators in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round, on May 4, 2017.

Today’s team has intentions of going deep into the playoffs, but they will be battling an experienced playoff team. The Penguins are in the postseason for the 16th consecutive season and are led by three core players in Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Sydney Crosby.

Impressive Season

Coming off an impressive season coached by Gerrard Gallant, the Rangers won 52 games this season, tied for second-most in team history (1993-94). Their 110 points are the third-most in team history. Its the first time in 10 seasons and only the 10th time in the NHL history that a team had at least 50 wins and 100 points with a 50-goal scorer (Kreider was third in the NHL with 52), a 90-point scorer (Artemi Panarin had 96) and a goalie with at least 36 wins (Igor Shesterkin had 36).

The Rangers know that once the playoffs start, all of the regular season stats and accomplishments are thrown away with all 16 playoff teams getting a fresh start.

“It’s been a grind, a couple [of] long years, but definitely worth the wait to be back in the playoffs.” Looking at this group that we have, I’m super happy to be a part of that and to be a part of the solution. I’m just really excited to get this going,” Mika Zibanejead told Dan Rosen of NHL.com.

Mika also discussed how the regular season stats don’t have a say once the playoffs begin,

“We’re familiar with what they do and what kind of team that is, but now it’s 0-0, everyone starts at zero, so I don’t think [the regular season] makes a huge difference.”

The playoff expedience chart leans heavily towards the Penguins, but Andrew Copp has his own view on the value of playoff experience.

“I don’t think experience is all that it’s chalked up to be,” said Andrew Copp , who participated in practice Sunday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury that sidelined him in three of the Rangers’ last four games of the regular season. “They’re just three really good players and their team is very good. Obviously, I think our team is very good, too. I think we’re ready for this challenge. It’s definitely going to be a great series and we’re looking forward to it.”

Gallant tried to downplay the experience factor, giving credit to the Penguins, but also stating that he is fully confident that his team can win the series,

“I think we’re as good as anybody in the playoffs and I think anybody in the playoffs can beat us,” said the coach, guaranteeing he would not make the back page. “I truly believe, can we win against Pittsburgh? Yeah, I believe that.

“Are we favored against Pittsburgh? I don’t really care about that. I think we can make a run, I don’t know if we’re going to, but I think we have as good a chance as anybody else.”

Defense Prowess

Defense is so important in the journey for a Stanely Cup.  The Rangers have four of the best in the NHL in Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, Jacob Trouba, and K’Andre Miller. Their third pair unit of Patrik Nemeth and Braden Schneider are capable of playing against any unit the Pens out on the ice.

Fox lead the defense in points recording 74 with 11 goals. He also led the team with 23:54 average minutes on since per game. Trouba was second in that category avenging just over 22 minutes per game. Trouba (+25) and Miller (+23) lead the defense in plus/minus.

Ryan Lindgren had 129 hits along with 141 block shots.  The team played its best defensive games over the final 10 games of the season with 4 shutouts including three consecutive games between Apr. 19 and Apr. 23.

IGOR -IGOR -IGOR

Igor Shesterkin’s name has been mentioned in both the Hart Trophy and Vein trophy category, but he is more concerned with the first round of the playoffs.

H will make his NHL playoff debut on Tuesday night a Madison Square Garden. The Ranger’s number one goalie led the league in G.A.A 2.07 and a save percentage of .935.

Shesterkin’s .935 save percentage in 2021-22 was the third-highest in NHL history among goaltenders with a minimum of 50 appearances. Tim Thomas (2010-11) – .938 Dominik Hasek (1998-99) – .937 Igor Shesterkin (2021-22) – .935.   Shesterkin posted the highest single-season save percentage in franchise history among goaltenders with a minimum of 30 appearances. (Via NYR Stats).

He had six shoutouts while compiling a 36-13-4 record. His 36 wins were ranked sixth in the NHL.

Projected Lineups & Stats

Based on the Lines used in practice on Sunday, the Ranger’s game one lineup is predicted to be;

Chris Kreider — Mika Zibanejad — Frank Vatrano

Artemi Panarin — Ryan Strome — Andrew Copp

Alexis Lafreniere — Filip Chytil — Kaapo Kakko

Ryan Reeves– Kevin Rooney — Barclay Goodrow

Ryan Lindgren — Adam Fox

K’Andre Miller — Jacob Trouba

Patrik Nemeth — Braden Schneider

Igor Shesterkin

Alexandar Georgiev

 Injured:  Tyler Motte – Upper body injury.

Power Play Units

PP1– Fox, Zibanejad, Strome, Panarin and Kreider

PP2– Trouba, Copp, Chytil, Vatrano and Lafreniere.

Kakko should get some reps on PP2.

It appears the Penguins will be without the services of their number one goalie Tristan Jarry, UBI) for at least the first two games of the series. Their lines in practice on Sunday were;

Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Bryan Rust

Danton Heinen — Evgeni Malkin — Rickard Rakell

Brock McGinn — Jeff Carter — Kasperi Kapanen

Brian Boyle — Teddy Blueger — Evan Rodrigues

Brian Dumoulin — Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson — John Marino

Mike Matheson — Chad Ruhwedel

Casey DeSmith

Louis Domingue

Injured: Tristan Jarry (lower body, Nathan Beaulieu (lower body), Jason Zucker (lower body)

Leading Scorers

via ESPN.com

The Rangers are led by Chris Kreider’s 52 goals and Artemi Panarin’s 96 points which include 74 assists. The Pen’s leaders in goals are Jake Guentzel (40) who is also the team’s point leader with 84 (tied with Sidney Crosby).  Kris Letang leads the team with 58 assists.

Round 1 Notes

  • Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp returned to practice and both are expected to play in Game one on Tuesday night.
  • Copp was acquired for the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline and has put up impressive numbers since his arrival in New York. He had 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 16 games, but missed three of the last four games of the regular season with a lower-body injury. He had been skating on a line with Panarin and Strome which will be continued in the playoffs.
  • The team is ranked 4th in the NHL on the power play (25.2%).
  • Ranked 7th on the penalty kill (82.3%).
  • Chris Kreider had 26 power-play goals, a franchise record.
  • Artemi Panarin recorded 37 power-play points (5G-32 A).
  • Rangers had a home record of 27-10-4.
  • Road record 25-14-2.
  • Rangers at home vs. Pens this season 2-0.
  • Rangers at Pittsburgh this season 1-1.
  • The Rangers had 27 comeback wins, 4th most in NHL history.

The last time the Rangers and Penguins squared off in the playoffs was in 2016 when Pittsburgh easily took the series in five games. The only player who is still on the Rangers roster from that year is Kreider.

Round 1 Schedule

Game 1 Tuesday, May 3 Pittsburgh 7:00pm MSG Network
Game 2 Thursday, May 5 Pittsburgh 7:00pm MSG Network
Game 3 Saturday, May 7 at Pittsburgh 7:00pm MSG Network
Game 4 Monday, May 9 at Pittsburgh 7:00pm MSG Network
*Game 5 Wednesday, May 11 Pittsburgh TBD MSG Network
*Game 6 Friday, May 13 at Pittsburgh TBD MSG Network
*Game 7 Sunday, May 15 Pittsburgh TBD MSG Network

Prediction

The Rangers take the series in five games.

You can follow Frank Curto on Twitter at @RangerProud

New York Rangers announce team Award Winners for 2021-2022

The New York Rangers announced their team award winners for the 2021-2022 season this morning.

The New York Rangers have announced their Team Award winners for the 2021-2022 season via team press release.

MVP

Igor Shesterkin– The Most Valuable Player Award was voted on by members of the New York Rangers media and has been given annually since the conclusion of the 1941-42 season. Shesterkin is the first Rangers goaltender since Henrik Lundqvist in 2017-18 to win the award.

 Heading into the final game of the season, Shesterkin has posted a 36-13-4 record to go along with his .935 save percentage and 2.07 goals-against average. In addition, Shesterkin has recorded six shutouts. Shesterkin is the fourth goalie in team history (Lundqvist, Richter, Giacomin) to win 36 or more games in a season. He currently leads the NHL in both save percentage and goals-against average.

Player Players Award

The Rangers announced that Barclay Goodrow and Jacob Trouba were co-recipients of the award this season.

The Players’ Player Award has been given annually since the conclusion of the 1958-59 season and recognizes the Ranger who, as selected by his teammates, “best exemplifies what it means to be a team player.” It is the first time the award has been shared since Chris Drury and Blair Betts earned the honors in 2008-09.

 In his first season with New York, Goodrow has tallied career highs in goals (13), assists (20), and points (33). Goodrow leads the Blueshirts in shorthanded time on ice (180:16), shorthanded shots (14), and has one shorthanded goal and four shorthanded points. On April 7 against Pittsburgh, Goodrow played in his 400th career game.

 Trouba has notched 11 goals, a career-high, 28 assists for 39 points, and a plus-25 rating in 80 games for the Blueshirts. Trouba ranks first on New York in blocked shots (172) and second on the team in hits (207). Trouba is the only player in the NHL with 200 or more hits and 170 or more blocked shots. On March 20, Trouba recorded his 250th career NHL point.

John Halligan Good Guy Award

Ryan Strome – The John Halligan Good Guy Award recognizes a player for their cooperation with the media throughout the season. The award has been presented annually since the 1974-75 season and was renamed in 2009-10 to honor the team’s late public relations director. The award recipient is chosen by members of the media who cover the Rangers throughout the season.

Strome has scored a career-high 21 goals in 73 games and has added 32 assists for 53 points. His point total is the second-most of his career (59 in 2019-20). Strome has recorded career highs in power-play goals (5) and game-winning goals (5) in 2021-22. On April 9, Strome tallied his 350th career point and on March 8 in Minnesota, he played in his 600th career game.

 

The Rangers play their final game of the 2021-2022 regular season Friday night when they host the Washington Capitals at MSG.

In odd twist, Rangers’ could have say on who they will play in the first round of playoffs

The New York Rangers play their final regular-season game tonight against the Washington Capitals and the result could possibly dictate their first-round opponent when the playoffs begin next week.

The New York Rangers will play the Washington Capitals at the garden on Friday night in both teams’ season finale. Though the final score of the game means little for the Blueshirts, the same can not be said for the Capitals who need the win for any chance to move into third place. This puts the Rangers in an obscure situation.

They could have a say in who their first-round opponent will be when the playoffs begin next week.

Washington or Pittsburgh

The Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins have been battling for third place in the Metropolitan Divison and the final wild-card spot for the past several months.   It all comes down to their games on Friday night.

Currently, the Penguins hold a one-point advantage (101) over the Capitals (100) in the standings.  Washington and Pittsburgh have lost their last two games setting up an epic 82nd game finale.  The Pens, 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, will play the Columbus Blue Jackets in Pennsylvania at 7 p.m.

Washington is 5-3-2 in their last 10 contests and has been without superstar Alex Ovechkin for the last two games due to an upper-body injury.  His status for tonight’s game against the Blueshirts has not been announced.  The Caps dropped a 5-1 decision to the New York Islanders Thursday night at UBS Arena in Long Island.

What’s at Stake

The scenarios for the Capitals to move into third place and/or for the Penguins to clinch third place are as follows;

  • A win for the Penguins would give them 103 points- clinching third place. If the win comes in overtime or a shootout the Penguins would still lock in third place as the Capitals cannot reach that point total.
  • If the Penguins lose and the Capitals beat the Rangers, the Caps would take third place.
  • If the Penguins lose in OT/SO they would end up with 102 points. Should the Caps win in regulation, they would also have 102 points and they would both have 36 regulation wins.  The third tiebreaker is ROW – The greater number of games won, excluding games won by Shootout.  The Pens hold this advantage and would remain in third place.
  • If the Pens lose in a SO/OT and the Caps win in OT/SO  they would have 102 points and be tied with the Pens in points but would stay in the last wild card position with the Penguins having more regulation wins.

The full tiebreaking situations can be found at NHL.Com

The third-place team will face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden when the playoffs begin.

The last Wild Card team gets to visit the Florida Panthers who won the President Trophy this year.

 

Follow Frank Curto on Twitter at @RangerProud.