Is it true, the Rangers can’t beat the good teams?

Feb 1, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) celebrates after scoring a goal with teammates against the Florida Panthers during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 1, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) celebrates after scoring a goal with teammates against the Florida Panthers during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s a mantra that fans of the New York Rangers hear over and over.  We hear it on the NHL Network, NHL Radio and most recently, on Tuesday night’s ESPN+ national telecast.  Hockey experts love to talk about how the Rangers have beaten up on the bad teams, but cannot beat the good teams.  The Blueshirts’ resounding win over the Panthers should have put those comments to rest, but is it true?

It’s a good time to look since we are in the All-Star break and there won’t be any changes in the standings until play resumes next week.

Here are the teams currently in the playoff picture by Conference and points percentage.

Eastern Conference

  1. Carolina Hurricanes   .762
  2. Florida Panthers  .734
  3. Toronto Maple Leafs   .726
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning   .717
  5. New York Rangers   .681
  6. Pittsburgh Penguins   .674
  7. Boston Bruins  .640
  8. Washington Capitals  .628

Western Conference

  1. Colorado Avalanche   .773
  2. Minnesota Wild  .720
  3. Nashville Predators  .652
  4. St. Louis Blues   .648
  5. Vegas Golden Knights  .620
  6. Calgary Flames  .619
  7. Los Angeles Kings   .585
  8. Anaheim  .573

The Rangers record

Okay, it’s true.  The Rangers are under .500 against teams currently in the playoffs.  The Rangers  record is 10-12-1, not great, but not awful   But there’s more to it.  Their record against the Eastern Conference playoff teams is 7-4-0.   The only team with more wins against Eastern Conference playoff teams are the Panthers with nine, but they have played the top teams 14 times as opposed to the Rangers’ 11 games.

Of course, the experts will point out that the Blueshirts haven’t played the Penguins yet and have seen the Hurricanes, Bruins and Capitals only once.  We’d point out that they have played the four best teams in the East eight times with a record of 5-3-0.

So, when it comes to the Eastern Conference, the expert are wrong, they can beat the good teams.

Their issue is playing the top teams from the West as the Rangers’ record is 3-8-1.  It’s worth pointing out that four of those losses came against two teams, Colorado and Calgary.   Consider this.   Calgary is in the last wild card position, hanging on to a playoff spot.   If Edmonton overtakes them, the Rangers’ record against the West changes to 4-6-2 and their overall record would be 11-10-2.  If Dallas sneaks in, the West record becomes 3-6-2 and overall 10-10-2.  And that my friends is at .500 or better.

So, because they dropped two games to a red hot Calgary team that was on a 7-0-2 streak when they played them, it’s true that “they have a losing record against playoff teams.”

What about the other guys?

You will happy to know that the Rangers with their 10-12-1 record, are not the only team in the playoff picture to be below .500 against playoff teams.  Boston is 7-9-2.  Anaheim is 8-12-5.  Los Angeles is 9-13-4.

Carolina has feasted on playoff teams, winning 14 of 17 games.  Colorado has won 14 of 22. But when you look at wins versus the number of games, the records are not that great with many teams losing in overtime or a shootout. With the additional point, the NHL definition of .500 hockey is skewed.

Here are the teams who have won half or fewer than half of their games against playoff teams:

  • Pittsburgh  9 of 18
  • Washington  9 of 20
  • Tampa Bay  12 of 24
  • Boston 7 of 18
  • Anaheim  8 of 25
  • Los Angeles  9 of 26

Of the rest, here are the teams who are one loss away from having wins in just half of their games:  Calgary, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Vegas.  All of those numbers make the Rangers winning 10 of 23 look a little better.


The Rangers have had difficulty with some of the better teams, most notably Calgary and Colorado.  They will be facing a challenge moving forward with nine games remaining with Carolina, Pittsburgh and Washington.   But it won’t be until the season is over and we’ve see how the Rangers do in those games, before we will be able to definitively make any statements about how the Rangers do against top teams.

One thing is certain, their record of 20-1-3 against teams out of the playoffs is the best in the NHL and the single biggest reason that they are sitting in seventh place overall in the league.  Beating the teams that they should beat is important and they are doing it better than anybody else.

The next time you hear a hockey “expert” parroting the popular mantra about the Rangers being “under .500 against playoff teams,” you can take some comfort that although they are slightly under .500 they have done very well against playoff teams in their own conference, a much more significant statistic.

And if anyone thinks the regular season record has an impact on the postseason, remember 2019-20.  The Rangers had a 4-0 record against the Hurricanes, outscoring them 17-9.   We are all still smarting for the three game sweep by those same Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup Qualifier.

If you want to see the records for all playoffs team versus playoff and non-playoff teams, look below.

Writer’s addendum: Some readers wanted to know about the Ranger goalies and yes, the difference in results is significant.  Here goes:

Shesterkin    9-5-0
Georgiev   1-6-1
Huska   0-1-0

More. Time for a Ring of Honor?. light

Here’s how all of the playoff teams have done against playoff and non-playoff teams:

  • Rangers vs playoff teams:  10-12-1  .456  –  Non-playoff teams:  20-1-3   .895
  • Carolina vs playoff teams: 14-2-1   .853 –   Non-playoff teams: 17-7-1  .700
  • Florida vs playoff teams:  14-6-3    .674 –   Non-playoff teams: 18-4-2   .792
  • Colorado vs playoff teams:  14-7-1   .659  –   Non-playoff teams:   18-1-3  .886
  • Calgary vs playoff teams: 11-5-4   .650   –   Non-playoff teams: 12-8-2  .591
  • Toronto vs playoff teams:  12-6-3  .643 –  Non-playoff teams:  17-4-0  .809
  • Pittsburgh vs playoff teams: 9-5-4  .611  – Non-playoff teams: 18-7-4  .689
  • Tampa vs playoff teams:  12-7-5  .604  – Non-playoff teams:  18-3-1  .841
  • St. Louis vs Playoff teams:  11-7-3  .595 –  Non-playoff teams:  15-6-2  .695
  • Minnesota vs playoff teams:  10-7-2  .579 –  Non-playoff teams:  18-3-1  .841
  • Washington vs playoff teams: 9-6-5 .575 –  Non-playoff teams: 16-7-4  .667
  • Vegas vs playoff teams:  13-10-2  .560   –    Non-playoff teams: 14-6-1 .690
  • Nashville vs playoff teams:  10-8-1   .552 – Non-playoff teams:  18-6-3 .722
  • Boston vs playoff teams:  7-9-2    .444  –   Non-playoff teams: 19-5-1  .780
  • Anaheim vs playoff teams: 8-12-5  .420 –  Non-playoff teams:  15-4-4  .739
  • Los Angeles vs playoff teams: 9-13-4  .424 –  Non-playoff teams: 15-3-3  .786