The seemingly improbable has occurred, at least according to “experts.” The Rangers are up 3-0 against the Carolina Hurricanes after another overtime winner, this time by Artemi Panarin. The New York Rangers are now 7-0 in their 2024 Stanley Cup Playoff run, and in the same amount of playoff games they played a year ago, look completely different under the direction of Peter Laviolette and company.

The number one difference is that the players paid to lead the way in the regular season are showing up in droves during the playoffs. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider combined for a short handed goal, Panarin got the game winner and set up the 2-1 Alexis Lafrenière goal, and Igor Shesterkin continues to be absolute nails in net. Matching now with the 1994 Cup team with the 7-0 start to the postseason, the Rangers are on the verge of something special.

Artemi Panarin has completely rewritten his New York Rangers tenure this season. From the drop of the puck back in October, he has been the straw that stirs the Rangers drink. All 4 of Panarin’s goals this postseason are game-winning goals. This is the Panarin that this franchise was promised when he signed here in free agency, and unlike Jon Snow, he knows all. This is the Panarin that isn’t just a passenger night after night, this is a play-driving elite forward making a difference and is engaged each and every game.

Speaking of rewritten aspects of the game, Zibanejad and Kreider together have been unbelievable in these playoffs. No longer the primary scoring line at even strength, they have become a tremendous shutdown duo that scores when shorthanded. Kreider continues to pad his franchise playoff goals record now with 44 and continues to score big goal after big goal.

Getting into your opponent’s mind and striking fear in their hearts is part of the postseason, and no one does that better than Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin is 7-0 with a 2.01 GAA and a .935 save percentage. The man is putting on a show. He’s the answer to Carolina’s game plan, which is volume shots from the point and hoping for deflections and rebounds. He may be facing 40+ shots a game, but the overwhelming majority are low danger chances that the Rangers defense clears thereafter.

The big key, though, for Shesterkin is that he’s making the big save when he needs to. Three overtime periods, holding leads in the third, keeping the Rangers in it when the Canes actually break through and cause some chaos, as they like to do.

Finally, in what feels like an afterthought (but isn’t), Filip Chytil made his return to the lineup. Skating on a line with Alex Wennberg and Kaapo Kakko, he looked pretty good after shaking off some rust. He made massive leaps getting back into game shape, and to his credit and credit to the Ranger medical staff, he looked as good as he did back in October. He had a few glorious chances to score, but more importantly has provided a bit more stability on the third line over Will Cuylle.

Food for thought: We haven’t even seen a desperate Rangers team yet.


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