Through three games, the NY Rangers depth has been proving to be the difference. While stars like Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Adam Fox are all either struggling or playing on one leg (Fox), it’s been Alexis Lafreniere, Barclay Goodrow, and others that have carried the Rangers to a 2-1 series lead.

The national media narrative is the Rangers are smoke and mirrors because only the Rangers must win through their stars. Every other team receives praise for such strong depth, but for the Rangers depth and goaltending are a bad thing. But logical thought process should win out–spoiler alert: it won’t–and note that the Rangers are a pretty well built team.

The depth stepping up for the Rangers is coming at a perfect time as the power play struggles and the stars on the team struggle to find open ice. While Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider have been placed in difficult matchups, thus scoring becomes a problem, they’ve done well in limiting their top competition, notably the Matt Tkachuk line, to limited high danger chances.

Is it ideal to have half of the top six designated to shutdown duties? No, not really. But it cuts off one of Florida’s legs, leaving the depth to shine. Depth was always one of the keys to victory, as the Rangers have better offensive talent down in the lineup. Granted no one could have predicted Barclay Goodrow’s offensive surge, but Lafreniere, Alex Wennberg, and others simply have more offensive talent than their counterparts on the Florida Panthers.

Is this a winning formula in the long run? Not really, and it’s key we recognize that while depth has been winning for the Rangers, they need their stars to start putting up points. If the depth will carry them at 5v5, then these stars need to produce on the powerplay. If anything, it’s the powerplay going cold that is noticeable, not the streaky 5v5 play that has hit an ebb.

If the Rangers depth continues to carry the entire team, then they are likely in a bit of trouble. They may be able to continue to ride the wave and survive this round, but it would likely be a different story in the next round. But to be fair, we are talking three games so far, and it’s not an effort or a mentality thing. The Florida Panthers are just a very good team.

As it stands today, the Rangers depth has been carrying the Blueshirts to a 2-1 series lead. The Panthers are doing an excellent job of keeping one of the league’s top powerplays at bay. If the Rangers powerplay starts breaking through while their depth carries them at 5v5, then watch out.

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