The stats behind the Rangers’ first half of the season

The Rangers woke up Sunday morning in third place in the Metropolitan Division and on pace for 102 points after falling short in overtime in Game 41 of 82 against the Devils.

Considering how the first eight weeks of the season unfolded, it’s impossible to be disappointed in the Rangers’ current position at the halfway point. In a division as tight as the Metro, however, the Blueshirts still have their work cut out for them.

“I think we found our way out of the start, which is nice,” Captain Jacob Trouba said. “That weighed on a lot of guys. I feel like we’re a more confident group now than we were whatever it was, 20 games ago maybe. I think as a team, we’re playing better hockey. More confident, more togetherness.”

The Capitals can pass the Rangers with a win over the Blue Jackets on Sunday night. That’s just how it’s going to be for the rest of the season. Another rough patch like the one the Rangers experienced from the end of October through early December would be detrimental.

Like their season so far, the statistics the Rangers have posted have been just as up and down. Here are the club’s best and worst statistics at the halfway point:

Needs to continue

2.71 goals-against average

Igor Shesterkin is seemingly returning to the supernatural form that won him the Vezina Trophy last season, while Jaroslav Halak has stabilized following at rocky start. Both of the netminders’ improvement over the season has played a major role in the team’s ability to flip the script. This is both a positive and a negative, since it’s become abundantly clear over the years that the Rangers struggle to compensate when they’re not getting outrageous goaltending.

The Rangers’ 2.71 GAA is fifth lowest in the NHL. They’ll need Shesterkin and Halak to continue being better than their best.

Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers tends net against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 07, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey.
Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin is reaching back to his form from last year.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

99 points by defensemen

The Rangers have received the second-most points in the league from their defensemen. Plus, their 79 assists from defensemen are also the second-most in the league. Adam Fox’s 40 points (seven goals, 33 assists) are good for third on the team, while K’Andre Miller and his 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) aren’t too far behind in seventh. The five goals and five assists Braden Schneider has chipped in have been a welcomed surprise, as well.

53 third-period goals / 86 5-on-5 goals

Getting outscored 2-0 in their third-period collapse Saturday afternoon against the Devils might not have been the best note for the Rangers to end on at the halfway point of the season, but their 53 third-period goals are still the third-most in the NHL. And since their power play has been spotty, the Rangers have had no choice but to pick up their scoring at five-on-five, where they are tied for fifth with the Golden Knights.

The Rangers still need to be better at closing out games, but the offense has been coming along regardless.

Needs improvement

23.7 power-play percentage / 80.8 penalty-kill percentage

For a team with as much offensive talent as the Rangers, their power play has to be better and more consistent. The top unit in particular is so much better than the Rangers’ ranking of No. 12 in the NHL. There’s room for improvement on the PK as well, which is currently sitting as the 11th most effective in the league.

Nine losses after outshooting opponents

The Rangers have had no problem piling on the shots night in and night out, but the quality of those shots needs to improve. Too many times the Blueshirts have come up short despite severely outshooting their opponents because they struggled to finish. Hitting posts, missing the net all together and not making the extra move at the end of a stellar play to bury the puck will come back to bite them.

48.4 faceoff-win percentage

The Rangers have struggled on faceoffs for years. Owning the 18th best faceoff-win percentage in the NHL isn’t necessarily bad, but it just seems to be the area that always hinders the Rangers’ game.

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