With offensive deftness and depth at the blue line, the New York Rangers are the most versatile and well-rounded team in the league. You have defensive forwards, like Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes to name a couple, along with offensive defenseman, such as Kevin Klein and Ryan McDonagh.
Then there are the defense specialists: Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. When you have twice as many forwards in a lineup to do the goal scoring, it makes sense to have at least a couple really strong defensemen.
Altogether, the Rangers have been extremely resourceful about who is on the roster and that has given them depth at both ends of the ice unlike any other team. When the Rangers are as multifaceted and well-balanced as they are, it’s no wonder why they’ve flourished this season.
To shed light on exactly how versatile the Rangers really are, I checked the top 50 NHL players with the highest plus/minus ratings. I figured the plus/minus rating was the best indicator of versatility since it’s one simple stat that combines both offensive and defensive elements.
Some of what I found I had already expected; Of course Rick Nash, one of the league’s top goal scorers, would be fifth in the plus/minus ranking with a +28.
Other things were more surprising: More than half of the Rangers’ current lineup is on that list. At this moment in time, the Rangers take up a whole fifth of the list. That leaves Rangers with the most players in the top 50, with 10 players, way above the next best Montreal Canadiens who have just 6. Considering that all 862 NHL players were ranked, this is kinda a big deal.
Kevin Klein was put on injured reserve a few weeks ago and his +24 is still good for 11th place. Derek Stepan comes in at 15th place with a +21. How fitting! And the other Rangers in the top 50 include Kreider, Staal, Zuccarello, Boyle, McDonagh, and Hunwick in that order. Again, they’re all in the top 50 out of 862 people!
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On the other end of the spectrum, the Blueshirt with the worst plus/minus is Keith Yandle at 853rd place in the league with -28. But much of that number has its roots back in the West where Yandle played for the Arizona Coyotes, posting a -32 with them. Now that he’s on the Rangers, he’s at +4 in 15 games so it’s not as bad it seems.
And I know some of you are thinking: where does Tanner Glass come in? Glass is in the 807th spot with a -14. He’s one heck of an outlier but I guess his role as an enforcer has benefits that outweigh the negatives.
With all of that said, the fact that the Rangers don’t have one, but two goalies among the top ten in goals against average in the league makes it very clear why they’ve been so successful. It’s laid out in the stats and rankings and it’s plain to see out on the ice.
This team that was once sulking below the halfway mark in league standings, not even close to a playoff spot, has risen all the way to the top of the Eastern Conference and among the best in the NHL.
This team has climbed a mountain and it’s all because of their versatility.