3 significant X-Factors that will make or break the rest of the Rangers season

The New York Rangers continue to roll as we are now firmly entrenched in the most important stretch of the season, but there are still X-Factors that will make or break them.

Feb 18, 2024; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93)
Feb 18, 2024; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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The Rangers have been a model for success this season as they currently lead the NHL’s Metropolitan Division and sit third in the Eastern Conference standings with 75 points. Better yet, they are getting hot at the right time of the year, having won seven straight between January 27th and February 18th, with three of those wins being nail-biters in overtime. 

New York remains in the top-10 in both goals scored (10th) and goals allowed (8th), and what’s even more amazing is the fact they have even more room to improve. If they can get better in areas like goaltending, for example, then the Rangers will be doing some damage not just down the stretch, but also in the playoffs. 

But it’s also one of three X-Factors that can break this team across the final two months of what has been yet another outstanding season to date. 

The Rangers goaltending must hold from now until the playoffs

Jonathan Quick continues to put up an impressive campaign in what is his 17th season in the NHL. At 38, Quick has a 13-4-2 record, a 0.917 save percentage, two shutouts, a 2.36 GAA, and just one really bad start. However, his quality starts percentage of 0.474 is a cause for concern, as it shows us that he’s also struggled more than his cumulative numbers show. 

Igor Shesterkin continues to be the primary goaltender, but the former Vezina recipient is still struggling with a 0.901 save percentage, a 2.85 GAA, just one shutout, and a 0.543 quality starts percentage. These numbers aren’t horrible, but we have come to expect so much more from Shesterkin. Especially when you factor in his eight really bad starts, which is already a career-high. 

Seeing Shesterkin return to his Vezina-winning ways is the ideal turnaround, even if that may not be plausible just yet. If he and Quick can gain some consistency from now until the end of April, the Rangers should have a top seed locked up.