The New York Rangers playoff push may have been halted, but when hockey does return, the Blueshirts must improve three components of their game to become legitimate contenders.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Rangers had put together a second-half run that saw them go 14-7-1 and move within two points of a wild card birth. Highlighted over that stretch were three players in particular; Igor Shesterkin, Mika Zibanejad, and Artemi Panarin, who shouldered the brunt of New York’s issues on a nightly basis.
Yes, things were starting to look much more optimistic on Broadway, as the Blueshirts (79 points) had already surpassed their 2018-2019 total of 78 with 12 games remaining. But there were still three glaring weaknesses to the Rangers’ game, that if they did manage to sneak into the final playoff spot, would have been egregiously exposed by the formidable Boston Bruins.
New York is loaded with young talent, who along with several budding superstars, could position the city that never sleeps for a chance to have a dynasty similar to that of the Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings. The ultimate goal is for the Blueshirts to lift the ever-elusive Stanley Cup over their heads, but there are steps that need to be taken once hockey returns in order to get there.
None of this will happen overnight and for the Rangers to be able to go toe to toe with the league’s best, they will have to drastically improve their possession metrics, their penalty kill, and their defensive structure.