The Rangers are Stanley Cup contenders this season

Another night, another incredible victory for the New York Rangers. Their top players continue to be their top players, but then also a few greasy 4th line goals gave them critical depth scoring. Igor Shesterkin also returned to the tune of  30 saves on 33 shots, with some expected rust. After the first goals though, he settled into the Igor we all know, stopping big chances by Hughes and Bratt in particular on breakaways.

The Rangers really came alive in the third period after surrendering an early goal to Erik Haula, but Artemi Panarin and his brilliance would not be denied as he tied the game, and Jimmy Vesey would get the game winning goal.

With a big win over the Metro Division favorite, are people still calling the Rangers pretenders?

Starting with Panarin, he now holds the franchise record in consecutive games with a point to start the season. The Rangers are almost a 100 year old franchise, it took until 2023 for the one of its best signings ever to get this accomplishment. If Panarin is not your early front runner for the Hart trophy, I have no idea what sport you are watching.

Panarin has a point on over 52% of the Rangers goals this season, which may sound like a negative, but it’s what you need from your star players. These are the kind of dominating stats that make people’s jaws drop when it’s a player like Connor McDavid (just for comparison’s sake, not saying Panarin is McDavid).

Jimmy Vesey was another forward who played a tremendous game. After a shaky start to the year because of the depth of the forward group, Vesey has been a mainstay in the lineup since a little before the injuries started to mount for the Rangers.  His second goal was something that few thought he could do, given his role. He put together a nice spin-o-rama off the rebound shot and into a wide open net for the go-ahead goal with 2:49 left to play.

It always helps to have home ice in either arena too. It sounded like they were playing in MSG when he scored.

While the win was great, the elephant in the room is the Kreider-Zibanejad-Wheeler line. Zibanejad and Kreider aren’t putting up points 5v5, and without Kaapo Kakko they’ve struggled to drive play. A line shuffle may be needed, if they can spare it with Chytil out, but there’s no right answer right now. Sometimes, you just need to be patient.

In all fairness, that’s the only perceived negative at this point. Guess the Rangers are pretty good, huh?


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