Entering tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Rangers are finally going to have their full, healthy lineup for the first time since they traded for Patrick Kane at the Trade Deadline. Ryan Lindgren will make his return after an 11-game absence.
The Rangers are going to have the 12 forwards and 6 defensemen that they want to have down the stretch and into the playoffs. It is going to be an exciting final 12 games as the race to the playoffs is almost over and if the past two games are any indication, the New York Rangers are going to be a serious threat on the quest for the Stanley Cup.
Let’s look at the top six for the Rangers. This group of six can match up against any other team’s top six and now that they are getting chemistry together, they are becoming even more dangerous. The two lines consist of Panarin, Zibanejad, Tarasenko, Trocheck, Kane, and Kreider. If you would have told Ranger fans that this would be the top six going into the playoffs at the beginning of the season, they would probably think that you were lying.
This is the most talented top-six the Rangers have had in many years and they are capable of putting up so much offense against the opposition. We saw what they did against the Penguins and the Predators and they looked amazing. While it won’t be like that every game down the stretch, at least we know that we can rely on these superstars to drive the offense and provide the team with key goal-scoring.
The Rangers also have a bottom six that is the most talented group that we have seen in many years. The bottom six consist of Kakko, Chytil, Lafreniere and Goodrow, Motte, and Vesey. We know that The Kid Line can produce, but the true breakthrough has been just how good the fourth line has been.
We knew that they could play well, but seeing them actually play and seeing them forecheck and hit, it’s great to see. They play that playoff style of game and while doing that, they are also providing offense and having been contributing on both sides of the ice. When you put all 12 forwards together, you get a group of players who could very well lead the Rangers to a Stanley Cup.
With the return of Lindgren to the lineup, the Rangers have their top-six back for the first time since the end of February. Lindgren will be paired with Fox, Miller with Trouba, and Mikkola with Schneider. Mikkola played well during Lindgren’s absence, but he is going to be more comfortable as a bottom-paring defenseman.
We already know that the top two pairs play well together, but the third pair did not have much time together when Lindgren was injured. These final 12 games will give them that time to gain more chemistry with each other and it will make the Rangers’ defense even better.
The end of the regular season is approaching fast and the Rangers are on a roll. If all goes well, they could find themselves in second place in the Metro, which would mean home-ice advantage in round one. The Rangers have a talented group of forwards and defensemen, plus a star goalie in net, and if they can continue to win games and enter the playoffs on a hot streak, who knows what will happen. Let’s enjoy the ride and hope for the best.