Not even Sidney Crosby and a desperate Penguins team could get in the way of the New York Rangers juggernaut Saturday night.
New York won their fifth game in six tries Saturday with a 6-0 drubbing of the rival Penguins in front of the home crowd. In doing so, the Rangers put forth the type of performance that not only gives them confidence going into the playoffs, but it sends a message to the rest of the Eastern Conference.
No one should want to see the Rangers on their upcoming playoff schedule.
It also helps that the Blueshirts have beaten some pretty good teams up until this point. New York beat Pittsburgh twice in three tries during the last week, with added wins over Washington and Buffalo. They’ve tallied over four goals on offense in each of their last three games as well.
Arguably the biggest reason for the Rangers’ recent run of success though has been their goaltender. After a mediocre month of February, Igor Shesterkin is back to his Vezina-winning ways. Shesterkin tallied a 35-save shutout Saturday and has recorded a save percentage over 90% in each of his last four games.
New York may have overwhelmed Pittsburgh on offense Saturday, but it was Shesterkin’s goaltending prowess that kept the Penguins at bay. His “scorpion” save to rob Mikael Granlund felt more like a reintroduction of himself as one of the best goaltenders on the planet.
With Shesterkin playing up to his skill-level, and the offense taking advantage of opportunities in droves, it’s not too far-fetched to see how dominant this Rangers’ team could be in a seven-game series. The overwhelming amount of talent at their disposal, along with the top goaltending the team currently possesses makes them one of the more complete teams in hockey.
As always though, the big issue with the Rangers has been consistency. Throughout the 2022-23 season, just when you think the team has turned a corner, an injury or poor performance follows and sinks them back a few steps. They also have a tendency to play down from their potential at times as well.
But as much as the 2022-23 season has been a roller-coaster, the Rangers have been playing their best hockey as of late against the teams they need to be beating. While there are still 13 games left in the regular season to fine-tune anything that needs to be fixed, New York couldn’t have picked a better time to turn on the jets.
And it’s made them into one of the most dangerous teams in the NHL now.