mika zibanejad, adam fox, chris kreider
New York Rangers' Chris Kreider (20) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Following the trade deadline, there was one clear success factor for the New York Rangers that most fans agreed on. The Rangers stars needed to do their jobs for the Blueshirts to have any playoff success. After all, blame will start with the best, and rarely with the roster depth. It’s why these guys are on the team and/or acquired at the deadline. So far, the Rangers stars are doing just that, and then some.

Trade deadline acquisitions showing up big

Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko are the two big names the Rangers added at the deadline. From just their offensive production, both are doing exactly what they were acquired to do. Kane has a goal and three assists in two games, taking over Game 2 after a “mediocre” Game 1 where he “only” had two assists. To be fair, Kane did look slow and had a couple of bad turnovers, but he still had two assists in the first 5-1 win.

Meanwhile Tarasenko has half the points of Kane, but opened the scoring for the Rangers in both games. Tarasenko was acquired to be that clutch shooter, and not only is he scoring, but he’s doing it timely. His goal in Game 1 may have set the tone for the entire series. His tying goal in Game 2 showed that the Rangers were not going to just roll over and die. They were going for the kill themselves.

The focus has been on the Rangers stars from the deadline, but don’t discount what Niko Mikkola has done for the Rangers thus far. Already with one assist, Mikkola has stabilized the bottom pair and has played to a near-50% xG share. Most importantly, he has limited a very dangerous Devils offense to 12.66 high danger chances against per 60 minutes, good for third among defenseman on the Rangers.

Other Rangers stars are dominating

Chris Kreider, normally a bit of a divisive player, has been another of the Rangers stars taking over games. With the Devils cheating to the off-wing one-time, Kreider has been feasting on the powerplay in front of the net. The single best net front presence in the league has four powerplay goals so far, and the Devils simply don’t have an answer for him.

Adam Fox is clearly the best player on the ice for both teams, and has a team leading six points in the playoffs. He and Kreider are partnering on the powerplay in simply destroying any semblance of a penalty kill the Devils might have. Adjustments are likely coming from the Devils, especially for Game 3 as the Devils know they need to win, and Fox has been up to the task.

Meanwhile, all this has come with “just” two points from Artemi Panarin and only one point from Mika Zibanejad. Naturally, neither will be held in check like this for long, just like Kreider won’t continue scoring two goals a game and Tarasenko won’t continue scoring each opening goal. As one group of Rangers stars hits a few games without multiple points, others will step up.

The Rangers stars have been the story thus far for the Blueshirts. As long as that continues to be a positive story, the Rangers will have a shot at something great. It’s only been two games and there’s a long way to go, but so far, so good.


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