Are the Rangers true Cup contenders?

Igor is back, folks. The Dallas Stars are not just a Western Conference powerhouse, but a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and Shesterkin absolutely stole the show with 41 saves for his 4th straight win. His save on Tyler Seguin is a save of the year candidate. I think we all just saw what the real Igor has been up to in working with Benoit Allaire.

With the team on an 8 game winning streak, they are back to where they were when they started the year. Just wait until the trade deadline comes and they round out the lineup with reinforcements.

Igor is obviously the story from last night. Although Dallas had 41 shots on goal, most of the shots happened while they were down and they were desperate to try and tie the game. Besides the Seguin save and a flashy glove save, there were not a ton of super grade A scoring chances by the Stars. It was a really sound defensive game for the full 60 minutes.

After such an emotional win at the Stadium Series, I was really curious how the Ranger were going to look last night, and they really answered the call. Igor at the top of that list. First star was an obvious choice given how he played.

The return of Kaapo Kakko has given the top 9 a huge boost in balance when it comes to filling out the lineup. Kakko can play up with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider and put up great underlying numbers, and he can play on a line with Will Cuylle and Jonny Brodzinski and snipe an absolute laser past Scott Wedgewood.

Kakko has now tied his career high with a 5 game point scoring streak. On the second power play unit as well, he was the most noticeable, making a couple of power move attempts through sticks and checks. He is playing with a lot of confidence right now.

Kakko has become such a Swiss army knife, a true Jesper Fast type player, in that wherever he plays, he’s effective. A 27-6-2 record with him in the lineup isn’t a direct correlation to his scoring or lack thereof at times, but the balance he brings to a lineup is invaluable.

The newly formed 4th line of Adam Edstrom, Barclay Goodrow, and Matt Rempe sure is fun to watch, and they are not pylons out there. For such big guys, both Edstrom and Rempe can really dig in and skate. With more ice time, I think they will continue to get a little more comfortable playing with each other.

Rempe in particular looked energized, as his solo rush from behind his net –where he chipped the puck in and went to retrieve– was so fast he had the crowd oo’ing and ahh’ing. He’s still only 21 years old (Edstrom is 23), he may still develop an NHL scoring touch. He’s got 8 at the AHL level, so he has some offensive abilities.

The Rangers go for their 9th straight win against the struggling Devils on Thursday night.

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