G, IGOR SHESTERKIN
The reigning Vezina- winner hasn’t replicated last year’s historic campaign, and no, that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him; it means he’s human.
After all, Igor will be measured by playoff success the rest of his time here in New York, as he tries doing the one thing his predecessor couldn’t and propel New York to a title.
On the season, the all-star netminder is 21-8-7 with a 2.45 GAA (2.38 last season), a .918 save %(.935 last season), and +17.3 goals saved above expected(+34.1 previous season).
He’s done his part in masking the Rangers’ defensive discrepancies at times by single-handedly keeping them in games.
Steady goaltending from the 33 year- old and faith entrusted in him by team goaltending Benoit Allaire has allowed the Rangers to remain calm and controlled on days Shesterkin gets a breather. After his woeful 0-5-1 start, which included a .881 save percentage and a GAA of 3.20, Halak has rattled off five straight wins while boasting a 1.80 GAA and a .938 save %.
The run continued last Friday when Halak improved to a personal 6-0 against the Vegas Golden Knights by making 34 stops in his maiden Garden victory. If he keeps this up, it’s hard to see how the Rangers will let him get away in free agency this Summer.
COACH, GERARD GALLANT
When the Rangers began the season 11-10-5, fans were calling for Gerard Gallant’s job, which remains the case despite the team’s 16-4-3 spurt since December 5th, which is second-best in the NHL during that timespan. The disdain churns from the man’s robust line changes the minute something goes wrong, which conspicuously doesn’t apply to the middling power play.
Gallant has been scrutinized for how he treats the kids by not giving them enough man-advantage time. Still, he’s right by saying this isn’t a development league nor a rebuilding team, though there’s a case to be made for the burgeoning Filip Chytil deserving a look on the first unit.
The Rangers hired the former player in the 2021 offseason to bring a Stanley Cup to New York, and if the organization were still in rebuild mode, David Quinn would still be here instead of coaching the San Jose Sharks.
GM, CHRIS DRURY:
This grade will increase or decrease depending on the results of the trade deadline, so I’ll leave you with the grade given for his moves this past offseason when he acquired Vincent Trocheck and Jaroslav Halak and said goodbye to Ryan Strome, Frank Vatrano, Andrew Copp, Kevin Rooney, Tyler Motte, Nils Lundkvist, Alexander Georgiev, and Greg Mckegg.
The lone trade Druy has made so far this drains was on November 23rd, when in a salary dump move, he sent Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a fifth-round pick.
The Rangers are 27-14-8(62 points), suitable for third in the Metropolitan Divison and 10th in the NHL, and is a small step below their 31-13-5(67 points) mark at this juncture last season.
Yes, this team is flawed and in need of a center at the March 3rd trade deadline, but it is good enough to qualify for the postseason and remain in the Stanley Cup conversation.
I’ve had a blast in my first season covering the Rangers, and you readers have been a big reason why. You’re positive feedback, creative ideas, and constructive criticism have all made me a better writer. I look forward to a strong finish to this 2022-23 campaign which will hopefully result in the Stanley Cup returning to Rangerstwon. LGR!