They have been a playoff nemesis to the Washington Capitals in recent years. The New York Rangers have had plenty of success over the past decade. Since the 2004-05 lockout, the Rangers have only missed the playoffs once.
So, what has been the key to the Rangers success? How have the Rangers been able to reach the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup finals in their recent playoff appearances?
Good goaltending can keep any NHL team in the playoff picture. Henrik Lundqvist has been the cornerstone of the Rangers franchise for over 12 seasons. The 34-year old Swede is approaching 400 career wins and already has ten 30+ win seasons.
In Lundqvist’s 17 appearances in 2016-17, he already has 10 wins, and has recorded a respectable 2.43 goals against average and .915 save percentage. Lundqvist has built a model of consistency over his lengthy NHL career.
Alain Vigneault is a former Jack Adams Award winner and is one of the winningest coaches active in the NHL right now. Between the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers, his teams have always been at or near the top of the league standings. He has multiple divisional championships under his belt, and has made it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice.
The Rangers continue to find ways to re-tool their roster with youth and speed. Over the summer, they signed the top young college free agent Jimmy Vesey. Vesey, 23, already has 7 goals and 13 points through 22 games.
The Rangers got younger by making a notable trade during the summer. They traded forward Derick Brassard to Ottawa and received forward Mika Zibanejad in return. Zibanejad, 23, is 5 years younger than Brassard.
FORWARDS AND DEFENSE
The Rangers are getting balanced scoring from their forwards. Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller are leading the way for the Rangers, as they both have 19 points in 22 games.
Rick Nash, who only had 15 goals in 2015-16, already has 9 goals through 22 games. Michael Grabner has given the Rangers some secondary scoring, as he already has 12 goals.
On the blueline, this is still a veteran group that is led by Captain Ryan McDonagh. While the Rangers traded Keith Yandle during the offseason, 22-year old Brady Skjei has filled in well on the Rangers blueline.
The Rangers are one of the quickest skating teams in the NHL. When one examines their lineup, they have plenty of speedsters.
Chris Kreider, Jimmy Vesey, J.T. Miller are just some of the skaters that have legitimate breakaway speed. These players can make defenders miss in open ice.
There is a lot of speed and skill in the Rangers lineup. The Rangers are not a team that will try to physically dominate, but they will try to outskate and take advantage of any defensive mishap by their opponent.
The speed is also noticeable with the Rangers defenseman. The Rangers have one of the league’s most active defense cores, that will push the puck up the ice in transition. Ryan McDonagh has 13 helpers in 22 games this season, while Brady Skjei has 11 helpers.
By: George Foussekis