Will the Rangers’ slide in fancy stats matter in the playoffs?

Jared Clinton
New York Rangers' Rick Nash

Last season, the New York Rangers came three victories from winning the Stanley Cup and you would be hard pressed to find those betting against the Blueshirts to get back to the final this season. Analytically speaking, however, the two teams are much different.

While last season’s Rangers were one of the 10 most dominant possession teams in the league, this season’s squad has shown, while they’re not the advanced stat darlings they were last season, they can more than make up for it with a high-power offense and the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot.

And it’s with Talbot and Lundqvist that the Rangers’ current run has been built, as New York has been getting the best goaltending the league has seen this season outside of Montreal’s Carey Price. Talbot is playing better than anyone – including Talbot himself – could have expected, and the Rangers are flourishing because of it. However, they’re also scoring at an incredible rate 5-on-5. Read more

Jesper Fast scores spinning, no look tally on Anton Khudobin

Jared Clinton
Jesper Fast (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast hasn’t had the most notable of seasons, scoring only three goals and 10 points heading into Saturday night’s tilt with the Carolina Hurricanes. But after Saturday, he does have one of the most impressive goals of the year.

After the Rangers cleared their zone, the puck ended up on the stick Kevin Hayes. Only Hurricanes defender Ryan Murphy was back on the play, so Hayes held on to the puck to draw Murphy over before slipping it in Fast’s direction.

The puck found its way over to Fast, but sat just a couple feet behind him. Fast, ever the quick thinker, turned, scooped up the loose puck, spun and fired. The rocket of a wrister found its way past Carolina netminder Anton Khudobin. You can check out the goal below:
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Five backup goaltenders who could find starting jobs next season

Cam-Talbot

In Wednesday’s win over the New York Rangers, Chicago backup netminder Scott Darling showed exactly why the Blackhawks inked him to a two-year extension. And, with the win, he made the backup goaltending job in Chicago that much more interesting.

With the shutout – the first of Darling’s professional career – it adds more credence to the belief that Antti Raanta’s time might be up as Corey Crawford’s backup. But the move from starting AHL netminder to NHL second-stringer, which Darling made, is a common one. Next season, however, could see the rise of more than a few backup goaltenders to first-string duty.

Here are the five goaltenders you can most expect to challenge for a starting gig: Read more

Even without Kane, Hawks’ win over Rangers shows you count them out of the playoffs at your peril

Brad Richards (Rebecca Taylor/NHLI via Getty Images)

When superstar Patrick Kane was injured Feb. 24, more than a few people knocked the Chicago Blackhawks down a peg or two in their rankings of Stanley Cup contenders.

Not me. Even though Kane isn’t expected back from a broken left clavicle until the time the Western Conference Final is played, I think the Hawks have more than enough talent and experience to win their third championship in six seasons. And Wednesday night, in a terrifically-contested 1-0 win over the powerful New York Rangers, Chicago demonstrated one of its core strengths, and one of the biggest reasons they were my pre-season pick to win the Cup and remain so today: they can beat you any way you want to play. Read more

Blackhawks’ Richards shows incredible patience for game-winner against Rangers

Jared Clinton
Brad Richards (Jared Silber/Getty Images)

It was almost too fitting. In Brad Richards‘ first game back in Madison Square Garden since he was bought out last summer, the Chicago Blackhawks, his new team, and the New York Rangers, his old, were playing to a scoreless tie. Then Richards delivered the dagger.

During Wednesday night’s contest, less than twenty seconds after New York’s Dan Boyle hit the crossbar, Richards collected the puck behind the net, was given space to walk out front and waited out Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot before burying a shot up top. The celebration tells you about all you need to know: Read more

Five freshmen exceeding all expectations in their rookie seasons

John Klingberg (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Andrew Hammond’s run between the pipes for the Ottawa Senators is one of the best stories of the season. He won’t, however, be getting a nod for the Calder Trophy anytime soon. It’s not because he’s undeserving, but rather because he doesn’t technically qualify.

Hammond was 26 before September 2014 and, as such, was too old to be eligible for the trophy as the league’s best rookie. He may have just had an outside shot at winning the thing if he were to muscle the Senators in the postseason, too. Alas, he’ll have to settle for free McDonald’s for the rest of his life.

So, while Hammond won’t be on this list of the top five unexpectedly good rookie seasons, here are several players who are turning heads in their freshman years: Read more

Suspend him or not: Canadiens’ Brandon Prust drills Lightning goalie Ben Bishop

Adam Proteau
Brandon Prust battles Lightning players after checking goalie Ben Bishop. (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Montreal Canadiens winger Brandon Prust is known around the league as a player who plays “on the edge”. Monday night against Tampa Bay, he appeared to go over that edge on a questionable hit from behind on Bolts goalie Ben Bishop that could earn him a date with the NHL’s discipline department.

The Lightning had a 3-0 lead on the Habs in the second period when the puck came around the boards toward the back of Bishop’s net. The goalie came out to play the puck, and Prust skated right into his back, knocking Bishop headfirst into the boards when Prust just as easily could’ve pulled up or avoided the collision: Read more

Power Rankings: No. 1 Rangers prepare for return of King Henrik

Ken Campbell
Mackenzie Skapski  (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

A source close to the New York Rangers told thn.com that the team has targeted the Rangers game March 24 against the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings for the return of Henrik Lundqvist.

But will King Henrik be able to find a place in the lineup? The Rangers are 14-2-3 with understudies Cam Talbot and Mackenzie Skapski in the lineup and have been the best team in the NHL since the calendar turned to 2015. Of course, Lundqvist will be back in the net for the Rangers after missing 23 games, as he should be.

But at least this team knows it has two capable guys if Lundqvist goes down again. And their contribution is a big reason why the Rangers are at the top of thn.com’s Power Rankings this week. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.) Read more