It is a new hockey year, and puck drop was nearly a week complete. Time does fly when you are having fun. It has been a great week so far in the hockey world and all seems to be right in the world because of it. The league kicked things off in Prague, but puck drop in North America on Tuesday night was nothing but spectacular. One team that has been noticeable is the New York Rangers. And the 2022-23 New York Rangers are playing better in areas of the ice so far where they did not excel last season.
New York Rangers Off To Strong Start To The Season
Even strength play
Last year the bread and butter for success was a red-hot powerplay and elite goaltending. To begin this season, the Rangers came out scorching hot and particularly in an area they lacked in last season. The Rangers have played good at even strength, an area they sorely lacked in the previous season.
Last year the New York Rangers ranked 26th in the league with a Corsi For Percentage of 47%. This season to start has been very different. Coming off a defeat in the Eastern Conference final to the Tampa Bay Lightning, they came out hungry. Opening night against Tampa they dominated that game at even strength. New York finished the game with a 58.21 CF%. In addition, they dominated the second (58.82) and a whopping 75% in the third period. Overall they finished the game with a 60% CF. To demonstrate their success at even strength, they finished with a scorching hot 91.49 xGF%. The Rangers generated ten high-danger chances and were buzzing all over the ice. It was encouraging, and they showed how good they are and will be.
The Trip Out West
The Rangers carried that same level of play at even strength. Headed out west on a two-game road trip, the level of play at even strength continued. Against the Minnesota Wild, it was dead even at 50%. Which was still very good for them and already two games in they have surpassed their average from last season. The Wild would go on to have the better CF in all situations, but the Rangers emerged with a 7-3 victory.
Their game against the Winnipeg Jets went the same way where the Rangers split 50/50. In all situations, they grabbed the edge with 51%. They generated plenty at even strength with an xGF % at 51.97. Despite playing well, the loss came due to stellar play by Hellebuyck in net. He finished with 1.81 goals saved, above expected in the game. Again, a very encouraging sign as they surpass their average from a year prior.
A Quick Note: It is early and the sample size is small, but the Rangers rank 17th on the power play and the penalty kill. The team is tied for third with two power-play goals.
All Corsi For Stats Courtesy of Natural Stat Trick
Contributions All Over The Lineup
This 2022-23 New York Rangers team is getting contributions from all over the ice. In just the three games played, every forward except for Ryan Reaves and Jimmy Vesey has a point. Leading the way are the big guns. Mika Zibanejad lit the lamp on broadway in the opener twice and has four points for himself. Superstar winger Artemi Panarin has not missed a beat. He leads the team in points (six) and assists (five). Chris Kreider and newcomer Vincent Trocheck each have one goal, two assists, and three points. Depth down the line has not been lacking. Even though the big guns are leading the way, the depth is following their lead. The kids have done their part.
The best line for the Rangers has been Lafreniere, Trocheck, and Panarin. As a trio, they have scored three goals while only allowing one. Through the three games, they average 9.5 goals for per 60 minutes. The line had its strongest game against Minnesota. They were on the ice for three goals and one against. Panarin (4 points), Lafreniere (two assists), and Trocheck (two points) led the way. As a line, they finished with the third highest CF% with 54.2. For example; in the matchup against the Jets, the line had a team-high CF% of 61.29% and CF REL of 15.84 which was also a team-high. The Rangers generated 19 chances when they were on the ice.
While the forward group scores the way they are, the back end contributes. Adam Fox leads the charge, with two points being his offensive dynamo. K’Andre Miller has a pair of points and a team-high +5. Fellow mates Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren each have a point.
Fox and Lindgren are the pair heavily counted on. The duo leads the back end with a 66.7% xG%. In addition, they also lead with 3.46 xGF per 60 minutes. Their expected goals percentage is, in fact, the same as the goals percentage. The other pair is Trouba and Miller. They’ve allowed one goal as a pair and average 4.61 goals per 60 minutes. The top four of the Rangers are highly talented and impactful in all areas of the ice.
The 2022-23 New York Rangers are off to a good start. This is just a small sample size, but it looks encouraging for the Rangers. They sit with a 2-1 record and rank first in the league with 11 goals. It’s a new season and a new Rangers team, and having solid play at even strength is huge for them. Hopefully, it is a trend that continues, but it is noticeable in the games they’ve played. A new recipe for success can now include being a good team at even strength.
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