Rangers Recap: Clinched.

Last night had it all for the New York Rangers in a 6-5 OT win: A playoff berth clinched, Peter Laviolette’s 800th win, Artemi Panarin hit the century mark in points, the Rangers become the first team to 100 points this season, Vincent Trocheck reached 70 points for the first time since 2019-2020, and Alexis Lafrenière continues to add to his career high in goals with 2 goals.

All of those accolades are great, but this was also one of the sloppiest games of the year and the coaches should absolutely be burning the tape.

Of course, a grain of salt is required with the Rangers on their 9th defenseman, but giving up 5 goals to the Flyers and winning in overtime is not a recipe for long term success. This kind of defensive performance is probably a one-off, but certainly not something you hope becomes habitual with the real season beginning next month.

The obvious from last night aside, let’s point out that this team is one of the most fun teams we’ve seen. It seems crazy that for only the 7th time in franchise history, the Rangers have a 100 point player on their roster, and he wasn’t even the main story last night. What Panarin has accomplished this season with all of the noise surrounding his playoff performances in previous runs is the stuff of Hart trophy recipients.

It’s also time many of us start eating our words on Peter Laviolette and own the mistake of poo-pooing the hire. Laviolette is a great fit for this team and he came to New York at the right time. He brought structure for the whole team while also balancing the need to win with the need to get players like Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko going. He deserves a ton of praise for his work this year, and that 800th win was well deserved.

Back when the Rangers lost Filip Chytil earlier in the season, there was a lot of speculation on whether putting Trocheck with Panarin would work long term, as that duo last season just seemed to be missing an element. Trocheck again proved doubters wrong. He’s been wonderful at filling the 2C hole, shielding the Rangers from overpaying for a scoring center at the trade deadline.

Every Stanley Cup team has depth down the middle, and Trocheck with Alex Wennberg give the Rnagers that much needed depth and balance. The Rangers now have a solid shutdown line, two scoring lines, and a 4th line that can fit the need for the game at hand. The Rangers are built to win games in April, May, and June. With the playoffs clinched, it’s now on the players and the coaches to win the ultimate prize.


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