The New York Rangers are the hottest team in the NHL right now. The Blueshirts currently sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 79 points and hold a six-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes.

All in all, this team should have no trouble qualifying for the postseason. But it’s what happens once they get there that should be of concern to fans.

We’ve seen this before: A terrific regular season, where everything seemingly goes right — only for it to unravel come the postseason.

Take last year’s campaign for example. New York went 47-22, only to lose in seven games in the first round to the rival New Jersey Devils. The year before that, the Rangers put together a 52-win season, but couldn’t get past the Tampa Bay Lightning, who defeated the Blueshirts four games to two in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But those teams that came up short are different than this current bunch — even if some of the names are the same. Something about this Rangers squad feels different. So how does NY win a fifth Stanley Cup?

The offense needs to produce

The offense has been there during this win streak. The Rangers have the best record in the sport when having a lead (38-16-3).

Artemi Panarin is fifth in the league in points (78). He’s followed by Chris Kreider — who is approaching 30 goals — Mika Zibanejad, and Vincent Trocheck, who have all recorded 54 points.

However, we saw the offense stall at times in that series against the Devils. New York was shut out twice — in Games 5 and 7. The Blueshirts also only managed to score a single goal in both Games 3 and 4 — losses that negated goaltender Igor Shesterkin’s stellar play through most of the series.

Faith in the fourth line

Jimmy Vesey is the king of clutch. You heard that right. Currently, the former Hobey Baker winner is playing on the first line. He is fast to the puck, he is physical and most importantly, he scores goals. He may not remain there — he could go back to the fourth line — but he’s been making an impact.

Speaking of that fourth line, it’s anchored by Barclay Goodrow at center, and rookies Adam Edstrom and Matthew Rempe, who have made some immediate impacts so far. Both guys are huge, being six-foot-seven and six-foot-eight respectively. Rempe dropped the gloves in his NHL debut at the Stadium Series, and has played physical, high-pressure hockey since joining the team. Edstrom scored a goal in his first game with the Rangers, and has since been playing smart hockey in terms of getting pucks in deep, using his size to his advantage, and of course, the physicality. The Rangers have needed a physical presence since they’ve traded Ryan Reaves, and have found it in these two rookies.

Goodrow is a two-time Stanley Cup Winner with Tampa Bay. Not only is he tough as nails for powering through his jaw injury from earlier this season, but knows what it takes to go deep in the playoffs.

Speaking of going deep…

How about Jonathan Quick? He joined the Rangers after a Stanley Cup-winning season with the Vegas Golden Knights. Before that, he had secured two with the Kings. And despite his age — 38 — he’s 13-4-2 when filling in for Shesterkin.

Kreider also boasts playoff experience, having been on the Rangers team that reached the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals. Though he only managed one goal in that series, the winger has found the back of the net 40 times in his postseason career.


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