Ranger Clinch the Playoffs: Is the Stanley Cup Next?

The Rangers have officially punched their ticket to the playoffs for the third straight season
Mar 23, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) is surrounded
Mar 23, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) is surrounded / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are headed back to the playoffs for the third season in a row after punching their ticket with their win over the Flyers. The game was maybe the wildest of the season with seven goals scored in the third period. The Rangers would eventually win in overtime as Adam Fox scored the game winner.

The incredible night was filled with milestones starting with the Rangers becoming the first team to reach the 100 point mark. Peter Laviolette picked up his 800th career win against his former team. Mika Zibanejad scored his 100th power play goal as a New York Rangers. Finally, for the first time in his career Artemi Panarin passed the 100-point mark in a season with a two-point night.

This season could have been a difficult year for the Blueshirts after the team moved on from head coach Gerrard Gallant and hired Peter Laviolette in the off-season.

The Rangers weren't expected to make the Playoffs with ease, as the Devils were favorites to win the Metro while the Hurricanes and Islanders were expected to be threats as well. The division got tougher with the Penguins trading for Erik Karlsson pushing for one last push with their core. Despite how tough the Metro was the Rangers never looked back as they've led the Metro division since October 24th.

The Rangers battled through their fair share of adversity as well during this season. The team lost Igor Shesterkin, Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, Jacob Trouba, and Kaapo Kakko to injuries for long stretches of the season. Blake Wheeler and Filip Chytil also suffered season-ending injuries creating holes that needed to be addressed at the trade deadline.

The biggest reason for the Rangers' success this season has been none other than Artemi Panarin. The Russian winger has posted career highs in points with 101 and goals with 43 with ten games left to improve on these marks. Panarin has always been one of the league's best passers however, his shooting has stood out this season with a career-high 16.8% shooting percentage.

Tons of credit belongs to Panarin's linemates for the team's success as well as Alexis Lafreniere and Vincent Trocheck have elevated their game. Trocheck wasn't supposed to be the center on Panarin's line as Filip Chytil was paired with Lafreniere and Panarin to start the season. Trocheck has 25 goals and 46 assists on the season while posting a career-high 59.2% faceoff percentage. This season was a massive year to prove it for Alexis Lafreniere and he has, with 22 goals and 25 assists with 41 of his points coming at even strength.

The under the radar signing of Jonathan Quick has been maybe the most important addition the Rangers made this off-season. The former Rangers foe looked like his career may be over in 2022-23 with a lowly .882 save percentage while allowing 3.41 goals per game. This season has been a resurgence for Quick as his save percentage has risen to .916 while allowing 2.44 goals per game. The Rangers' season could have been easily derailed once Igor Shesterkin was injured or when Igor struggled, however Quick has allowed Igor to regain his form allowing the team to be Cup Contenders.

Speaking of Igor Shesterkin, for all the doubts the first half of the season raised, the second half has been pure dominance. Since February, Shesterkin is 12-3-1 with a goals-against average of 2.06 and a saves percentage of .936. The former Vezina winner has regained his form making the Rangers deadly come the playoffs.

The pairing of Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider continues to post great numbers, especially on the power play. Kreider has scored 33 goals with 32 assists while Zibanejad has posted 24 goals with 39 assists.

The rookie Will Cuylle has provided the team with a much-needed physicality ranking sixth in the NHL with 224 hits. He's also provided at times offensively with 12 goals and 8 assists on the season.

Adam Fox continues to prove he's one of the best defensemen in the league especially on offense where his 63 points rank sixth among defensemen despite missing ten games. K'Andre Miller has taken a massive step forward with 29 points while his game defensively has been impressive while Braden Schneider continues to improve defensively.

This May be the Best Suited for the Playoffs the Rangers Have Been in Years

Throughout the Henrik Lundqvist era of the Rangers post season runs the team always lacked the talent around the King to truly compete for the Cup most years riding solely on the back of their goalie. Artemi Panarin may have been the best skater on any of those Rangers teams as would Adam Fox. The team also has three talented lines with the top line providing a 200-foot game, Panarin's line providing scoring, and the third line playing a shutdown checking style. This group has the top end talent and depth to win a Stanley Cup and anything outside of a Conference Championship appearance would be a let down.

More New York Rangers news and rumors: