The New York Rangers entered the 2021-22 season looking to improve after finishing nine points out of a playoff spot in the Covid-shortened 2021 year.
The Rangers were expected to fight for the playoffs in a Metropolitan Division that appeared to have five solid playoff contenders. In NHL betting, the Rangers’ Stanley Cup odds coming into the year were +2500.
That number has dropped over the course of the regular season to their current odds at DraftKings Sportsbook New York of +1600.
BetMGM Sportsbook New York has the Rangers tied for seventh with the Boston Bruins at +1600 in Stanley Cup adds. The Colorado Avalanche (at +325) are the favorite.
This drop in odds is a significant one, but it is deserved as the Rangers were one of the top teams in the league all season long. They finished second in the division and will have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, where they will face either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Washington Capitals.
It All Begins with the Goalie
The Rangers were led by superstar goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who is currently the odds-on favorite to win the Vezina Trophy. FanDuel has him at -4000 odds, ahead of Carolina’s Frederik Andersen and Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom (both +1700). He also in the conversation for the league MVP award.
Keep in mind, though, that you can’t bet on awards determined by voting in New York sports betting.
Shesterkin’s emergence as the best goaltender in the league propelled the Rangers to their high finish in the division, trailing only the Carolina Hurricanes. A league-best .935 save percentage and 2.07 goals against average (GAA) highlight his resume.
If Shesterkin can keep up that form, the Rangers will be a tough out in any playoff series.
Carolina and the Calgary Flames were the only teams in the league with a similar team GAA and those teams both played much better team defense than the Rangers, who asked much more of their goalies.
Shesterkin had a brief slump late in the season but coach Gerard Gallant made sure to give him some much-needed rest and the goalie finished out playing really well.
Other Key Players in Rangers Season
Shesterkin wasn’t the only Ranger to have an exceptional season.
Chris Kreider highlighted the offense, surpassing 50 goals for the first time in his career, 26 of which came on the power play, where he dominated in front of the net all season long. The Rangers had a top five power play on the season and Kreider was a big reason.
Artemi Panarin also had a great year offensively, quietly flirting with 100 points. Mika Zibanejad shook off a slow start to finish the year over a point-per-game pace with 81 points in 80 games.
Adam Fox, last year’s Norris Trophy winner (top defenseman), followed up his breakout campaign with another solid season. He collected more than 70 points and averaged almost 24 minutes per game. Shesterkin, Fox, Panarin, Zibanejad and Kreider gave the Rangers bonafide superstars at every position this season.
Making moves at trade deadline
Looking to add some depth and playoff experience, the Rangers were busy at the trade deadline with the key addition being Andrew Copp. Copp proved his worth early, playing up and down the lineup and putting up 18 points in 16 games with the Rangers.
Depth up front is no concern for this team. The Rangers have promising young players in Alexis Lafreniere and Kappo Kakko as well as solid veterans Ryan Strome and Barclay Goodrow. All of these players have seen time in the top six this season and Strome generally centers Panarin on the second line.
The defense isn’t the strength of the team but with Shesterkin in net it doesn’t have to be. Fox leads the way, but Jacob Trouba also had a strong season.
Justin Braun was added at the trade deadline to add some much-needed depth but he won’t move the needle offensively.
If the Rangers do get exposed in the playoffs, it would figure to be on defense.
With home ice advantage in the first round, the Rangers are naturally going to be expected to advance, but with less emphasis on special teams in the playoffs and with some of the most important players on the roster lacking playoff experience, seeing them come through on their current +1600 odds to win the Stanley Cup would be a surprise.