Do the New York Rangers have a true top six forward group?

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Artemi Panarin #10 and Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers y. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Just past the quarter way mark of the new season and the New York Rangers are in bad shape. They are tied for the second fewest number of wins (5), are tied for fifth worst in goals scored (35), and have a power play operating at an 12.28%% conversion rate. This from a team that scored the fifth most goals (233) and had the sixth best power play (22.91%) last year.

The New York Rangers top six math just doesn’t add up

Why the disparity? Through the first 15 games, production from the Rangers top six forwards have been mostly absent. Last season, the Rangers top six accounted for 25 goals, 49 assists and 74 points through the teams first 14 games. Those totals helped fuel a power play that converted its chances 24.07% of the time. This season, a top six that has included both Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko alternating to replace Jesper Fast has scored 21 goals and just 24 assists for 45 points.

Through 15 games last season Fast had the least points among the top six with seven points. This season, only Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich have more, with 16 and 10 points respectively. Ryan Strome, with an assist in last night’s game equaled Fast’s seven points. Last season, four of the top six forwards were in double digit points, this season only Panarin and Buchnevich have reached that level. If the Rangers top six were operating at last season’s levels, they would not have lost six one goal games this season.

As a unit, the top six is only off by four goals from last season, 25 to 21. Though, they are down significantly with assists (49 to 23) and overall points (74 to 44). This is in part due to the lack of power play production where more of the top six play together, and more individualized effort among those forwards at even strength. As a unit, these production numbers reflect a group in regression, but how are these numbers reflective of each individual? Let’s take a good, bad and ugly look at the 2021 New York Rangers top six.

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