Rangers key players coming through in critical times

Rangers’ Key Players Coming Through at Crucial Times vs. Hurricanes – The Hockey Writers New York Rangers Latest News, Analysis & More

After winning in overtime yet again in Game 3, the New York Rangers have a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Carolina Hurricanes and are one win away from making the Eastern Conference Final for the second time in three years. This time, it was Artemi Panarin who was the hero as he deflected a pass from Vincent Trocheck between his legs and by Pyotr Kochetkov to end the game 1:43 into overtime. The “Breadman” helped to put a stranglehold on the Hurricanes and push them to the brink of elimination. They could get swept for a second year in a row after getting swept by the Florida Panthers last season in the Eastern Conference Final.


For the Rangers, their top players are coming through when they have needed to and that is why they are undefeated so far in these playoffs. The big guys know what they have to do and even when the team has gone down in a game, it doesn’t affect them and they can get the equalizer and end up winning because they don’t quit. The Rangers have something special going on for them and it all starts with the top players coming through when they are needed the most.


Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad

In Game 3, the Rangers were down 1-0 after the first period and midway through the second period, they were on the penalty kill. The Hurricanes had yet to score on their power play in this series and were looking to get a goal to go up 2-0 in the game. However, it was the Rangers who capitalized as Mika Zibanejad set up Chris Kreider for a short-handed goal to tie the game at one and this gave the team the spark they needed to get back in the game. Both of these players have come up big for the Rangers so far in these playoffs and they were the ones that got it started in Game 3.


New York Rangers Celebrate

Mike Zibanejad, Vincent Trocheck, Chris Kreider, and Artemi Panarin celebrate after Trocheck’s first period goal during game four of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After a poor regular season by his standards, Zibanejad has stepped up massively in these playoffs. He is tied for the team lead with 12 points in seven games and particularly in this series, he has been clutch. He scored two goals in Game 1, set up the double-overtime winner in Game 2 and got the primary assist on the Kreider short-handed goal in Game 3. He has been excellent so far and he and Kreider have been a great duo for so many years. With every goal he scores, Kreider keeps adding to the franchise record for playoff goals scored. He currently has 44 and will likely get a few more before this playoff run is over. They have been excellent this postseason and they were the ones that got the team back into Game 3.


Panarin-Trocheck-Lafreniere Line

This line was the Rangers’ best line all season long and while they were mostly quiet during the first round series against the Washington Capitals, they have been electric in this series so far. Starting with Trocheck, he has been arguably the best player on the team in these playoffs and he has stuck it to his former team. He scored a power play goal in Game 1, the double-overtime winner (another power play goal) in Game 2 and had the primary assist on the Panarin overtime goal in Game 3. He has been effective on both sides of the puck, as he is the team’s best face-off taker and he wins more than he loses. For Panarin, he has scored four goals in these playoffs and all of them have been game-winners. He has come up clutch so far after such a disappointing playoff performance last season. He has taken his game to another level.


As for Alexis Lafreniere, he has upped his game in this series. He had four assists in the first round against the Capitals and now, he has found his scoring touch. He has three goals and five points in the three games so far in this series and he got the secondary assist on the Panarin overtime goal. After having a career regular season, he has continued his great play in the playoffs so far and is finally showing why he was picked first overall. He was given the chance to play on this line to start the regular season and he has not looked back and it has only positives for him and the Rangers.


Igor Shesterkin’s Brilliance Continues

After making 54 saves in Game 2, Igor Shesterkin followed it up with 45 saves in Game 3 and finished the game with a .957 save percentage. He kept the Rangers in the game early on and survived the Hurricanes shooting everything at him. He has made 99 saves in the past two games and is the reason why the Rangers were able to win both in overtime. He has outplayed both of the Hurricanes’ goalies and should be considered a current favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy, as the overall MVP of the playoffs. He has kept the Rangers in these games and is the backbone for this team if they want to go even further in the playoffs this postseason.


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The Rangers have a chance to sweep the Hurricanes in Game 4 and move on to the Eastern Conference Final. So far, everything has been clicking for the team, but they know the job isn’t done. The Hurricanes are going to play even more desperate next game and the Rangers know that their top guys need to keep playing like this if they want to end the series in Raleigh and rest up for the next round. It’s going to be tough, but this team has proven they can overcome any challenge and with their top guys playing the way they are right now, there is no doubt they can end this series in Game 4.




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