New York Rangers’ Second-Half Scorers Provide Hope for Playoff Push
The New York Rangers were among the league leaders in goal scoring the first half of the 2016-17 season. Following the All Star Break, Blue Line Station highlights the team’s best second half scoring threats.
The New York Rangers started the 2016-17 season with plenty of question marks surrounding their new and improved forward corps. The immediate results were impressive, even for those that expected to see more goals from this group. Through the team’s first 49 games, the Rangers rank second in the NHL in goals for per game with 3.37.
Those numbers are good enough for second in the NHL behind their division rival Pittsburgh Penguins (3.54GF/gp). However, with other teams heating up in the Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division, it is important for the Rangers to maintain their goal scoring success.
With hot starts from players such as Jimmy Vesey, Brandon Pirri, and Michael Grabner, the Rangers will be looking to other players to have big second-half point totals. Let’s take a look at what to expect from some of the Rangers’ top players in the second half of the season.
Since joining the New York Rangers in the playoffs of the 2011-12 season, Kreider has been one of the team’s best forwards down the stretch. One of the reasons that Kreider is able to stay so effective is his elite level conditioning. As his career has progressed, Kreider has seen a level of consistency grow in his game.
Over the last two years, Kreider has found ways to stay productive throughout the entirety of a season. In 2014-15 he scored 11 of his 21 goals, and 11 of his 22 assists after the All Star break. He repeated that second half success in 2015-16 when he scored 12 of his 21 goals after the All Star game.
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Kreider has also solidified himself as the Rangers most dangerous scorer when the play matters most. In 65 postseason games with the Rangers, Kreider ranks first on the team in goals scored (20), and he is third in total points (33).
Derek Stepan embodies what any NHL head coach looks for from their top center. He plays crucial minutes against the opponent’s top competition on a nightly basis, yet continues to be one of the Rangers’ most dependable forwards.
Last season, Stepan averaged a point per game after the All Star Break to lead the Rangers in second half scoring with 33 points (13 goals and 20 assists). He also ranked second on the forward group in average time on ice, playing 18:20 per game.
His calm demeanor follows him into the postseason as well. Stepan owns the most points in the playoffs among active Rangers since 2010-11, trailing only Derick Brassard when you include players no longer with the team.
The Rest of the Group
The Rangers’ diverse group of forwards boasts a fantastic mix of rookies, growing young stars, and established veteran players. Veterans Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash have received criticism as players that are unable to perform in the playoffs. However, both have played vital roles in the team’s regular season success over the last handful of seasons.
Meanwhile, players such as Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller will be awarded another opportunity to prove their abilities in the team’s quest for the Stanley Cup. Both played varying minutes over the course of the last two postseason hunts, but have seen their offensive roles grow this season.
Finally, youngsters Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey are entering the search for the postseason for the first time. Fellow newcomer Mika Zibanejad is about to play the first meaningful second half games of his career. Each of these players has contributed to the Rangers’ first half success. The team will rely on them in the second half push.
If the first half of the season is any indicator of what’s to come for the Rangers on their journey to the playoffs, they will be well equipped to score goals with the best of the NHL. Only time will tell if this group has what it takes to be real contenders for the Stanley Cup.
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