Are The New York Rangers A Cup Contender for the 2021-2022 Season?

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Barclay Goodrow (left in blue) looks to make a play on the puck, Jesse Puljujarvi protects (right in white).

After some years of strife due to an ongoing rebuild, the New York Rangers are looking like a Stanley Cup Contender as the NHL season comes into 2022. They currently hold the #1 spot in the Metropolitan Division and the #2 spot in the league. The Tampa Bay Lightning hold the #1 rank, just one point ahead of the Blueshirts, having played one more game than them.

The Rangers as of January 14th, 2022 have a record of 24-10-4 with their latest win coming against the Anaheim Ducks (4-1). The team is currently on a 5 game road trip before coming back home to the Garden on the 19th to play Toronto. The Rangers cleaned house at the beginning of the year, firing their GM, Jeff Gorton, their team President John Davidson, and head coach David Quinn. Former Rangers player Chris Drury stepped in as GM and President while Gerard Gallant became the new head coach. The Rangers have not made the playoffs since the 2016-2017 season but the declaration of a rebuild in 2018 has made that somewhat excusable for fans. It does seem that this rebuild has worked as the team is on fire at the moment, taking a position at the top of both the division and league standings. There is still a lot of play left but the Rangers are looking good. 

Big keys to this successful season have been Adam Fox (D), Igor Shesterkin (G), Chris Kreider (F), Artemi Panarin (F), more recently Mika Zibanejad (F), and Gallant’s coaching ability.

Adam Fox won the Norris Trophy last season which goes out to the NHL’s best defenseman. He currently is tied for most points on the Rangers and holds the position for third-most points for a defenseman, sitting at 36 points in 37 games.

Artemi Panarin leads the team, tied for points with 36 in 32 games played. He came to New York on July 1st, 2019 from a free agency signing, leaving the Columbus Blue Jackets. He signed a 7 year, $81.5 million contract and has been an integral part of the Rangers since. He faced some adversity last season when he was accused of physically assaulting an 18-year-old woman in Latvia in December of 2011. The New York Post goes into further detail and a lot more depth about the whole controversy. The conclusion many came to was that the accusations were politically motivated as Panarin has become very open in his criticisms of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Igor Shesterkin (center) gets ready to make a save.

Igor Shesterkin has had an outstanding year so far with the Rangers, playing his first full season after the shortened ones in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. He has a save percentage of

.936, just tallied a shutout against the top team in the league (Tampa Bay Lightning), and has a record so far this season of 15-4-2 (that “2” being overtime or shootout losses). Shesterkin recently came back from a minor injury and is continuing to be amazing in the net.

Chris Kreider is on pace to break his personal points record of 53 points in the 2016-17 season. He has 32 points in 37 games, with 45 more games left to play in the season.

Mika Zibanejad is the first-line center for the Rangers and is another top point producer with a similar stat line as Kreider. Mika sits at 33 points in 37 games.

Gerard Gallant played hockey professionally from 1983 to 1995. Right at the end of his career, he started coaching. Gallant bounced around all of hockey, landing assistant, and head coaching jobs for many different teams with varying degrees of success. He led Team Canada to a gold medal finish in 2007. In 2017 Gallant was announced as the first head of the new expansion team in the NHL, the Vegas Golden Knights. In the Golden Knights’ first season (2017-2018), Gallant led them to the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Washington Capitals in game five. Because of this outstanding achievement in the inaugural season of the Knights, Gallant was awarded the Jack Adams trophy which is given to the best coach in the National Hockey League. In 2020, Gallant was fired by Vegas

Gerard Gallant receives the Jack Adams Trophy for his coaching in the 2018 NHL season.

and in 2021 the New York Rangers replaced former head coach David Quinn with him. The Rangers are now 24-10-4 with a bit more than half of the season left to go. Gallant has put New York in a great playoff position for the first time in years.

The Broadway Blueshirts are giving New Yorkers a big reason to root for them this year by being one of the top teams in the league. Gerard Gallant leads the team as the new head coach and with spectacular talent in the Rangers’ defensive and offensive lines, and in their goalies, they could definitely make a run at the cup. Something they have not come close to doing since 2014.