New York Rangers Mid-Season Review

We have reached the mid-way point of the 2021-22 NHL season, at this point the New York Rangers sit at a fantastic 30-13-4 record which sits them 2nd in the metropolitan division and 5th in the entire league. The question now remains, are the Rangers as good as their record shows, or are they getting really lucky. Well, lets take a deep dive into the Rangers play and break down different aspects of their game.

Even Strength 

At even strength the Rangers haven’t been great, in fact they’ve been mightily inconsistent and a lot could say they have not been good at even strength at all. The Rangers currently rank 25th in the league in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) where they rank behind teams like the New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, and New Jersey Devils. So it’s evident the Rangers are not a good team at even strength this season, and it’s showed in terms of the eye-test where it they get dominated. What could be the cause of this? Well its for a multitude of reasons, the most glaring one is the lack of a true third line and to has pretty much been a mismatch all year. We’ve seen Filip Chytil center Alexis Lafreniere and Julien Gauthier most of the time, but then we’ve seen combinations such as Barclay Goodrow with Dryden Hunt and Gauthier. To add, there is no threat in the bottom six currently to generate any offense. To put things into perspective, the Rangers best player in terms of generating offense that plays in the bottom six is Julien Gauthier, and that is just not gonna cut it, especially come playoffs. 

So to say the least, the team has no third line that can play well at even strength at a consistent basis, and that can result in a lackluster performance at EV overall.  Now is that the only reason why the Rangers are underwhelming at EV, obviously not. Analytically the Rangers really have no forward to drive any offense. You may argue that they have Artemi Panarin who on the surface is having a great season, but when you take a deep dive into his analytics, he’s been a liability defensively this season and has not had as big of an impact you’d expect offensively from Panarin (at EV). To me, these are the two issues which really flaunt the Rangers struggles at EV so far this season. Having said that, there is still time for the Rangers to make moves to at least sure up the third line as Panarin’s lackluster impact at EV can improve as the season grows older. 

Special Teams

The Rangers special teams have been fantastic to say the least this season, and have been reasons why they’ve won some games. The Rangers power-play currently has been scoring 25.9% of the time when on the ice which ranks fifth in the entire NHL. Their success has a lot to do with the man who is at the top in the NHL in goal-scoring, Chris Kreider. Kreider makes a living on top of the crease where he’s probably the best player in terms of directing traffic in-front of the net and deflecting shots, this presence just makes life easier for the Rangers top unit where they’re able to move the puck more fluidly while also getting better scoring opportunities. Now Kreider isn’t the only reason why the Rangers power-play is so good because we cannot forget about Norris trophy winning defenseman Adam Fox. Fox ranks ninth in goals for per 60 minutes (GF/60) and fifth in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60), which makes him undoubtedly one of the best power-play quarterbacks in the NHL. His high hockey-iq is invaluable to this special teams unit as he’s able to create space for the forwards to pass and shoot the puck. 

Now lets look at the penalty-kill; the Rangers have killed off 82.6% of their penalties which helps them rank 10th in the entire league. Analytically, Jacob Trouba, Kevin Rooney, Ryan Lindgren have been good on the penalty-kill where shorthanded all three rank top 50 in expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60). Lets be real now though, the Rangers main success on the penalty-kill is not because of the group of skaters they put on the ice, it’s because of their goaltender.


Saying Igor Shesterkin has been fantastic is an understatement, he’s undoubtedly the best goaltender in hockey right now and is one of the leagues most valuable players. He showcases a record of 22-5-2, where he’s only lost to the Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Minnesota Wild in regulation time. Furthermore, in all situations (among goaltenders who’ve played at least 25 games this season), Shesterkin ranks first in save percentage (SV%) with a .937 SV%, which is .10 higher than the goaltender in second place which is Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros. Shesterkin also ranks second in goals against average (GAA) with a 2.10 GAA, first in goals saved above expected (GSAx) with a 22.68 GSAx, first in goals saved above average (GSAA) with a 23.83 GSAA, first in wins above replacement (WAR) with a 5.9 WAR, and finally first in high danger save percentage (HDSV%) with a .871 HDSV%. Not to mention his importance on the penalty kill where he’s sixth in GSAx and second in GSAA shorthanded this year which helps the team solidify their penalty-kill. Yea, Shesterkin has been that incredible this year and he’s pretty much the sole reason why the Rangers’ record is as good as it is. Enough about Igor though, lets take a look at how the other goaltenders have been for the Rangers this season.

To start, the main backup for the Rangers is obviously Bulgarian born goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev who’s currently 7-7-2 with a 2.99 GAA, .898 SV%, -3.14 GSAx, and .794 HDSV%. Overall he hasn’t played really good, but he has been important to the Rangers at specific parts of the season, especially when Shesterkin went down with his lower-body injury a couple months ago. During that timeframe Georgiev amassed a 5.08 GSAx which was top five in the whole NHL. This however was the only bright spot in Georgiev’s season as so far. When Georgiev has to play 30% of the games in an NHL season he won’t be very good and it’s really as simple as that. 

The Rangers also saw appearances from their two AHL goaltenders in Keith Kinkaid and Adam Huska who both only got one start. Kinkaid started against the Arizona Coyotes where he held his ground and helped the Rangers secure a win. Adam Huska on the other hand started against the high powered Colorado Avalanche where he got lit up, definitely a tough loss to take in your NHL debut but he can use that game as a way to get better and prove that he can play in the NHL. 

Concluding Thoughts

The Rangers are a strange team this year, their record shows that they’re one of the best teams in the league but if you take an in-depth look at the team there is a couple of holes that is being overlooked because of Shesterkins phenomenal play. The lack of not having an actual third line all year and Artemi Panarins struggles at EV have really killed the group 5v5. The problem is fixable though as a couple of smart trades by Drury can help sure up their depth. A part from that, both the goaltending by Igor Shesterkin and the special teams have been fantastic this year. As long as the Rangers fix their problems at EV later this season, they’ll be a real threat come playoff time.

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