The inaugural Rangers Report Card has arrived and through 11 games, most of the Blueshirts are scoring well so far. After a historic road trip through Seattle and Western Canada, momentum was at an all-time high for New York. A slugfest victory over Carolina and a “wild” loss in Minnesota have decided the finishing touches for the first Rangers Report Card.
The New York Rangers Report Card Through Eleven Games
Some players are striving under pressure while others are not performing up to par. In a time where the “next man up” mentality is ever-present, New York’s depth needs to be on full display. With a busy rest of November still to come, New York needs to clean up their act and develop a better structure than the one we all saw in Minnesota on Saturday night. With a record of 8-2-1, I can report that there are way more positives than negatives. Here’s a closer look at who is trending both upward and downward so far.
Rangers Report Card: Who’s Hot?
If you were to tell me that the Rangers would be 8-2-1 through the first 11 games, I would have said that you were slightly crazy. The talent was present on the Opening Night roster, but we did not expect a sweep of a five-game road trip and multiple defensive masterclasses.
The old Ranger identity night in and night out was simply to score more goals than the other team. Rarely did a Tom Renney or an Alain Vigneault-led Blueshirts team defeat an opponent 2-1 on the backs of solid slot protection and a world-class penalty kill. These new-look Rangers are refreshing. Apart from only two games, they have been just a joy to watch.
Starting the Rangers Report Card are three Blueshirts who have impressed many so far. The first is Artemi Panarin who is simply a new man after his haircut. His 18 points (6G, 12A) in 11 games lead the team and he is on pace for a record-breaking season. Never have I seen a Ranger with such poise on the puck like Panarin. He makes everything, passes and shots, look so easy. Through the first month, you can tell that Peter Laviolette and his staff are encouraging him to shoot the puck more frequently. Dare I say that it is paying off so far.
11-game point streak: activated. pic.twitter.com/G7cK1Rcx9q
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 5, 2023
Staying in the upward trend, Chris Kreider has earned a spot on the Rangers Report Card. Leading the team with eight goals, he is turning into the best net-front presence that the game has ever seen. Shots from Panarin and the now-injured Adam Fox are finding his blade effortlessly. He and teammate Mika Zibanejad have the potential to be the best power play duo in the NHL.
NET FRONT PRESENCE pic.twitter.com/2H9XIs4YtT
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 5, 2023
Rounding out the positives of the Rangers Report Card is arguably the signing of the summer thus far: Erik Gustafsson. The immense pressure on Gustafsson right now is remarkable, having to fill the skates of the one-time Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox. He possesses better-than-average puck-handling abilities and, as we can see, is not afraid to throw the biscuit on net. This is the best-case scenario with the absence of Fox.
Rangers Report Card: Who’s Not?
You don’t like throwing names under the bus, but it is evident that there are players not playing up to their potential. The most disappointing player on the Rangers Report Card has to be Kaapo Kakko.
Having just two points on a line with Kreider and Zibanejad is baffling. There seems to be a lack of confidence in his game. He needs to search for more efficient scoring opportunities rather than throwing the puck on the net for a number on the stat sheet. It is being reported that Kakko will head to the third line; only to swap places with another player who is on the “Not List”: Blake Wheeler.
Wheeler notched his first primary assist this past Saturday on Gustafsson’s goal from the top of the slot. Change might benefit both Kakko and Wheeler, but at least Kakko shows pace. The game is getting faster by the minute, but possibly Wheeler can keep up with two new, talented linemates. We cannot jump the gun right now, but this project is sounding like “make it or break it” for the 37-year-old.
PL on switching out Kakko for Wheeler on the top line:
“If you’re not getting the results that you’re looking for from a 5v5 standpoint… you look at what maybe you could do to see if it gives it a different look. More than anything, I just wanted to change the scenery.”#NYR
— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) November 6, 2023
Detroit Rock City Heads to Broadway
The Rangers will welcome the Detroit Red Wings to The World’s Most Famous Arena on Tuesday. Detroit finds themselves in second place in a competitive Atlantic Division. Their most recent result was in a nine-goal thriller, taking down the dangerous Boston Bruins 5-4. The one-time Ranger Andrew Copp will return to MSG with six points in 12 games.
Puck drop is scheduled from MSG at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday from Madison Square Garden.
Main Photo Credit: Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports
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