The Rangers 2024 President’s Trophy season has come to an end, with the postseason beginning on Sunday. Few saw this kind of season coming, with some detractors thinking the Rangers wouldn’t even make the playoffs. While the playoffs were always realistic, perhaps finishing first in the NHL wasn’t as predictable.

It took a lot for the Rangers 2024 President’s Trophy season to happen. Stars produced, the coaches delivered, the team managed injuries, necessary lineup changes were made, and kids took the next steps. Yet there’s more work to be done.

1. First and foremost, credit where credit is due. Chris Drury found the right coach in Peter Laviolette, and the pair worked together to bring in the right assistants in Dan Muse, Michael Peca, and Phil Housley. Getting Christian Hmura in there over Mark Ciaccio was a move that paid huge dividends as well.

Without the right coaching staff, the Rangers could be the Devils. Tons of skill, done in by poor coaching. Not the best comparison since the Rangers actually had goaltending, but coaching played a major role in the Devils being so bad.

2. Artemi Panarin really turned things up a notch this year. For the first time in his career, he eclipsed 300 shots on goal, completely shattering his old high of 228. As a result, he set new career highs in goals (49) and points (120), eclipsing prior highs of 32 and 96, respectively. Just an unbelievable season and worth of a Hart Trophy finalist.

Panarin is the main reason why the Rangers 2024 President’s Trophy season came to be. They could have simply folded after the injuries to Adam Fox, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko, but Panarin–and Vincent Trocheck and Alexis Lafreniere–carried the Rangers until they got healthy, got reinforcements, and got the goaltending back.

3. Igor Shesterkin hit his first blip of the season, with pretty rough months of December/January before taking a break to work with Benoit Allaire on his glove work. Naturally, we saw how that worked out. Shesterkin didn’t need to be heroic for much of the season thanks to the overall roster balance, but when he was needed in March and April, he delivered.

4. You can’t mention goaltending without mentioning Jonanthan Quick’ resurgence. He stabilized the Rangers while Shesterkin worked with Allaire. Few backups can do what Quick did at his age, with perhaps Semyon Varlamov as the only other backup to play a positive significant role while the starter struggled.

5. I know many like to focus on Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad in a negative way, but here are some fun nuggets for both this season.

  • Kreider set a career high in assists (36) while putting up 39 goals and 75 points.
  • Zibanejad was top five on the team in goals, assists, and points.
  • The percentage of points that were powerplay points were high (39% for Kreider and 43% for Zibanejad), but they still put up over half their points at 5v5 or 4v5 despite playing a shutdown role for most of the season.

That last bullet is important. When the Rangers lost Chytil and Kakko, thus breaking up the expected shutdown fourth line, it was Zibanejad and Kreider matched up against top competition. They may not have put up the 5v5 number many hoped for, but they’ve been rolling since the trade deadline.

6. He may be done for the year, but Blake Wheeler’s contributions shouldn’t be overlooked. Forced into a top line role–on a shutdown line no less– due to injuries, Wheeler did way more than expected. He wasn’t overly efficient, but the 37 year old put up 9 goals and 21 points while playing in that forced shutdown role.

If we mention that Kreider and Zibanejad had some 5v5 scoring issues due to the role, it’s unfair to leave Wheeler out of the conversation.

7. Ryan Lindgren struggled for most of the season, but he’s looked like his old self since returning from his March injury. The issue with Lindgren for most of the year was that he looked a step slow, so it’s safe to assume he was nursing some kind of injury, as he always is. The Rangers need him to be his normal self in the playoffs.

8. As for Jacob Trouba, he looks much better on the third pair with Erik Gustafsson. Lesser competition, and fewer high stress minutes are good for him. Complain all you want about his contract, but it doesn’t do any good. The goal is to get him into the right role so the Rangers can win a Stanley Cup. This is the right role.

9. The Rangers are poised to make a long, long run in the playoffs. They will need some luck, as all teams that make runs do. They have the right formula: Elite talent, solid depth, the best goalie in the East, and all this before we account for Filip Chytil’s return.

Why not us?


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