The top 5 Rangers in Round One

May 13, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) stands for the national anthem against the Pittsburgh Penguins before game six of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
May 13, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) stands for the national anthem against the Pittsburgh Penguins before game six of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

It was a very up and down series for the New York Rangers, with games that will be remembered for a lifetime along with games that we’d rather forget. Nonetheless, coming back from down 3-1 is special. We are spoiled enough to have seen it for the third time in the past decade.

Not only did they come back from 3-1 in the series, but they were trailing at a point in every elimination game. In Games Five and Six, they were even down 2-0. Now that the series has concluded, let’s take a look at the top performers.

With how poorly the Rangers had played at points during this series, it is difficult to rank these players. However, some of them came through when it really mattered the most.

Thus, here is a ranking of the top five Rangers in Round One. But first, some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Tyler Motte only played two games in this series, but he had a massive effect. While he did not register a point on the scoresheet, he jumped off the television. Motte is a master of forechecking, and despite his size, can get into dirty areas and make the opposition uncomfortable when breaking out of their own zone.

In Game Seven, Gerard Gallant deployed him in a variety of scenarios. He was taking defensive zone draws with the top line often, and was out late in Game 6 to close things out. He was also an efficient penalty killer, getting in the way of several shots. Motte provided what hoped to have seen from Barclay Goodrow, had he not been hurt in Game 1. What a great deadline acquisition this was. This was an extremely gusty showing from Motte right after injury, and is worth noting.

Similar to Motte, Ryan Lindgren elevated the team when getting back into the lineup. It is likely that he is still pretty beat up, and his presence seemed to rejuvenate the lineup. He even put up two points in his four appearances.

While the “Kid Line” dropped off in the last few games, they were able to keep the Rangers afloat when the top guys didn’t show up. Alexis Lafrenière, Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil were arguably the best line through the first five games. Not only winning a round in the playoffs, but being on a resilient team coming back in a series will do wonders for their development into next season.

Last, Andrew Copp quietly had a strong series. He was great in Games One and Two, and played in all situations throughout the series. He totaled four goals and three assists for seven points in the seven games.

#5 – Artemi Panarin

Artemi Panarin did not have a good series. As a matter of fact, if the Rangers had lost last night, the blame likely would have ridden on him. While his caliber of play has been concerning, he shut everyone up by notching the series winning goal.

Additionally, he did take over during Game Two. We would have liked to see that level of play more consistently, and some stronger backchecking, but it is encouraging that he will enter the second round on a high note.

Something that makes Panarin so special is that even when he’s playing his “worst” hockey, he still produces statistically. He still posted a point-per-game this series with three goals in four assists.

Here is a clip of the winning goal (What a call from Sam Rosen)

#4 Mika Zibanejad

This was quite a strange series for Mika Zibanejad. He saved himself from a summer full of negative output from fans due to his performance in the last two games. After Game Four, it appeared the Rangers were toast, and Zibanejad was seen as the primary culprit.

However, he dug deep, and put the team on his back. Down 2-0 in Game Six he scored twice in two minutes creating a brand new hockey game. Last night, when everything looked bleak, he let go his signature shot and got it passed Tristan Jarry, sending MSG into a frenzy. Zibanejad finished the series with a team-leading 11 points, and proved that no moment is too big for him.

#3 Chris Kreider

Chris Kreider was consistent throughout the entire series. He also had his rough patches in Games Three and Four, but he was a key performer in all four Rangers wins. After his display on and off the ice this season, it would be stunning if he is not named captain. He has been the glue of this team all year, and that has not changed this postseason. It is a treat for Ranger fans to watch Kreider night in and night out.

Like many others, he also played at a point-per-game rate with five goals and two assists.

#2 K’Andre Miller

K’andre Miller did everything and more for the Rangers this series. Ever since the new calendar year, he has performed at an elite level. Over his rookie season, and the first half this year, we knew he had talent but still had another gear he could kick into. He’s kicked into that gear much earlier than we expected. He’s been the player we’ve all dreamed of him being.

He’s used his body to a punishing degree, his long reach has helped break up countless zone entries, he’s skating with confidence at the blue line, and is even getting into it with opponents after the whistle. Back in November this was not the case.

Miller recorded four points in the seven games, and was particularly strong in the deciding Game Seven. Being in his first playoff series, it is beyond impressive that he stepped up in the big moment. While Panarin was the hero last night, that power play does not exist without Miller’s aggressive cut to the net to draw the penalty.

Miller also saw a massive increase in ice time, recording over 26 minutes this series. In Game One, he played 44 minutes and looked nearly perfect. He has untapped potential, and he will have a much bigger workload next season. A Miller-Adam Fox pairing could be quite intriguing. It is a treat to have two elite defensemen on the back end.

#1 Igor Shesterkin

The Rangers flow through Igor Shesterkin. Just like the Rangers, Shesterkin had a very up and down series. While the entire team was awful in Games Three and Four, so was he. It seemed that the Pittsburgh crowd got to him and he appeared out of sorts.

In Games One and Two be stopped 118 of 124 shots for a .951 save percentage. He didn’t reach these statistical numbers later in the series, but he made crucial saves to keep the Rangers afloat.

Once the elimination games began, he brought back his A game; especially in Game Seven. He made some truly remarkable saves to keep the game level. It is not often a goalie can perform like he did in Pittsburgh, and still be regarded as the MVP of the series. But that is just how special he is.

He’s proven that those games were likely a fluke, and that he’s back to his normal self. If he can perform to this quality against Carolina, the team has a shot.

Who do you think will be the Rangers best in Round Two? Who do you believe they need more out of? Leave your thoughts below.

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