Why the New York Rangers are a team to be feared when play resumes

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Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers celebrates his first period power-play goal (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

All signs are that we will get some definitive word this week about resuming the NHL season.  How does it affect the New York Rangers?

Professional sports resumed this weekend and New York Rangers hockey is not too far behind.  In Germany, the Bundesliga soccer league played games with no fans and awkward goal celebrations.   The PGA tour played a tournament with the players in shorts, carrying their own bags.   Nascar restarted its engines with a 400 mile race in Darlington,  South Carolina, again with no fans and pit crews wearing masks.

The NHL-NHLPA Return to Play committee spent the weekend meeting, discussing plans for resuming the NHL season.   According to Pierre LeBrun of the Athletic (subscription required), the headlines were that they favored a 24 team playoff preceded by some regular season games.  The majority of players want to resume play, but there are quite a few who are concerned about health risks.

Meanwhile, the NHL Board of Governors has a meeting scheduled and the report is that there will be a decision forthcoming about the timing of the NHL Entry Draft.  The word is Commissioner Gary Bettman favors a June draft as scheduled and he doesn’t need Board approval to move ahead.

At any rate, a 24 team playoff format should include the Rangers and if so, there are reasons for Blueshirts fans to be excited.  They could be a miracle waiting to happen.

Most of the experts are in agreement, when play resumes, the New York Rangers are one of the teams to be feared. Here’s why.

Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Ranger (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Goaltending

Goaltending can be the single biggest factor when it comes to a deep playoff run.  A flawed team can ride a hot goalie to playoff success.  Whether it was Jean-Sebastian Giguere with the Mighty Ducks in 2003 or Jonathan Quick with the Kings in 2012 or John Vanbiesbrouck with the 1996 Panthers or even John Davidson with the 1979 Rangers, a goalie can be the difference between an early exit and a Stanley Cup.

Enter Igor Shesterkin.  If there is one reason why the Rangers can go into the playoffs confident that they can go deep, it’s their rookie goaltender.   Can Shesterkin be the Jordan Binnington of 2020?  His 10-2 record and .932 save percentage indicates that he could be.

Shesterkin is the single biggest reason the Blueshirts made their late run to playoff contention.  He should be completely healed from his rib injury and ready for a long postseason.

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