New York Rangers Thanksgiving list

As we digest our Thanksgiving turkey and prepare for the a matinee grudge match with the Boston Bruins, it’s time for a short list of what we should be thankful for when it comes to our beloved New  York Rangers.

The personnel

  • Gerard Gallant – Boy, is he a good coach or what?  You can see the players enjoy playing for him and he sticks up for his players no matter what.  He knows what buttons to push and when to push them.  It’s been a revelation.  When observers said he was the perfect choice to take this team to the next level, they weren’t wrong.
  • Adam Fox – Being able to watch this superstar in the making play every game is a  pleasure.  His excellence is evident on practically every play he makes.  He’s going to definitely be a Ranger for eight more  years.  Hallelujah.
  • Chris Kreider – Never mind all of the past criticism.  All is forgiven.  We may never know what transformed Kreider from the frustrating underachiever to one of the best goal scorers in the NHL.  Maybe it’s what Gallant said, he’s simply sick of missing the playoffs.
  • Igor Shesterkin – The Rangers have been blessed with outstanding goaltending for decades.  Shesty is ready to take  his place in that long line and inherit the mantle passed from Giacomin to Davidson to Vanbiesbrouck to Richter to Lundqvist.
  • Ryan Reaves/Barclay Goodrow/Kevin Rooney –  At last, the Rangers have a fourth line that can rival that of any opposing team.   Let’s put aside the criticism of the Reaves extension and the Goodrow contract, if the Blueshirts can keep this  trio intact, they are made for the playoffs.
  • The kids – To quote the Who, the kids are alright.  Kaapo Kakko got off to a slow start, but now has a point in five straight games and is an option on wing on the top two lines.  Alexis Lafrenière has still not lived up to the hype, but he is getting better.   He fought J.G. Pageau and is showing leadership and skill. He’ll be fine.  Nils Lundkvist is slight of frame, but with only 14 games under his belt at the toughest position, he is doing well.   We forget that K’Andre Miller is  still only 21 years old,. we won’t forget that end-to-end rush for a goal against the Panthers.   Remember, Kakko and Lafrenière cannot legally buy a beer yet.
  • Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba – We’ve got two defensemen who are tough as nails and play hard.  Lindgren and Fox are joined at the  hip as the top pair and Trouba has grown into his role as a senior  blueliner at age 27.  With all of the prospects in the pipeline, the Rangers are set on D for years.
  • Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad –  These two veterans are down on the list not by design, but because their teammates have done so well.  Panarin is leading the team in scoring and is still one of the elite players in the NHL.  While Zibanejad has had his issues, just remember his pass to Lindgren in the Buffalo game and his pass to Kreider against the Islanders.  He’s fine setting up Kreider instead of scoring himself.
  • The older kids (Filip Chytil and Julien Gauthier) – These two young forwards have been oozing potential for years.  Now it looks like they are on the verge of living it. If Chytil and Gauthier can keep up their excellent play and start putting pucks in the net, look out.

Other stuff

  • Good health – Knock on wood.  The Rangers have lost Sammy Blais for the season, but other than that they have been pretty healthy with only Kakko missing games and Strome out on the COVID protocol for a few games.  Team depth is not exactly a strength on this team, so they need to stay healthy.
  • The road record – Only the Carolina Hurricanes have won more road games than the Rangers.  They haven’t played a lot of elite teams on the road yet this season, but they are developing a road identity that will be helpful down the road.
  • Resilience – This team is more resilient than any recent Rangers team and they are getting better at it.  While the two blown leads that ended up as overtime losses still sting, since then, they have gotten much better at holding leads and reacting to setbacks.
  • One-goal games – If you count games with open net goals as one goal games, the Rangers have played 13 this season.  Their record?  9-1-3.  That’s 21 of a possible 26 points. Last year they were 11-10-6.  The season before that?  23-17-14.  It’s an improvement that will help come playoff time.
  • Special teams –  The penalty kill is sitting 20th overall with a 79.7% success rate.  Take out the first two games against Washington and Dallas when they allowed three power play goals and they are in the NHL’s top 10 with 84.3%.   The power play has been solid with a 21.1% success rate, 12th overall.  Consider t his, they went 2-20 in their first five games. Since then, the rate has been 27%, going 10-37.   That would be sixth best in the NHL.
  • Home ice – For the Rangers to win, they need Madison Square Garden to be a beast.  This season they are 5-1-1 at home and the Blueshirts faithful are doing their part. The Rangers haven’t been more than five games over .500 at home since 2015-16 when they went 27-10-4.

The highlights

  • Ryan Lindgren’s last second goal against Buffalo This one is probably at the top of the list. Watch that sequence again and marvel at the passing as the clock ticked down.  Amazing.
  • K’Andre Miller’s end-to-end rush for a goal–  It came against one of the  best teams in the league. His training as a forward showed on that play.
  • Artemi Panarin’s OT game winner in Toronto – What a way to end a goal-less schneid for the Breadman.  It came in the fourth game of the season and it proved to the team that they could compete with one of the league’s best and that they also had a world class goalie in Shesterkin
  • Kreider’s shootout goal against New Jersey – It was his first shootout attempt since his rookie season and  he is the first to admit he isn’t good at it.  But Gallant sent him out and  he delivered (he asked Zibanejad for advice).  Brilliant.
  • Kakko’s look of relief –  The look of relief on Kaapo Kakko’s face when he scored his first goal of the season against New Jersey was priceless.  In the last five games?  Three goals and three assists.  And  he is still not on the first power play unit.
  • Stopping the Florida streak – The Panthers came to New York without a regulation loss in their first 11 games and the Rangers put an end to that streak. It took 42 saves from Igor Shesterkin and they had to withstand a furious comeback by the Panthers, but it was a huge win especially coming after a 6-0 shellacking in Calgary two days before.

Finally, Blue Line Station would like to thank all of those who contribute to this site and especially those who follow it.  We do our best to provide unbiased (relatively) and perceptive coverage of the greatest team in sports.  Our readers are knowledgeable, opinionated and passionate and we appreciate all of you.

Feel free to make your own contributions to these lists in the comments below!  We know we’ve missed some.

Happy Thanksgiving and let’s go Rangers!