The New York Rangers and New York Islanders are dead even in the Metropolitan Division standings over 19 games into the 2022-2023 NHL season.
While the Empire State competitors don’t have identical records, they each have 22 points in the standings. The Islanders have more wins (11) than the Rangers (9), so they’re third in the Metros and last year’s Eastern Conference participants are fourth.
Based on last season, the Rangers would be easy favorites to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs this season if one had to choose between the Metropolitan teams. However, these clubs are neck and neck, so what’s really best for getting into?
Will the Islanders or Rangers emerge as threats to the D.C. Department?
Let’s start by looking at crimes. Surprisingly, the Islanders have fared better attacking offense so far this season, scoring 3.3 goals per game compared to the Rangers’ 2.9 goals per game.
Individually, the Islands have two players with two points per game in Mathieu Barzal (21 points) and Brock Nelson (19).
Rangers actually have more players with a point per game, led by Artemy Panarin (22), Mika Zibanejad (21) and Adam Fox (21).
My concern here for Rangers is the same thing that worried me going into the season: they are heavyweights. I’ve said over and over that they lost more than they added over the summer, and I think that’s why their stars play so well, they’re hardly in supplement form.
Defensively, these Metropolitan Division rivals are about as close as they can get. The Rangers have a slight advantage, allowing 2.7 goals per game. The Islanders allow 2.8 goals per game.
Although the Blues had the best defense, it was the Islands who scored better. 925 save percentage on the year, eight points higher than Igor Shesterkin’s save percentage for the Rangers.
Semyon Varlamov (.914) has also been a solid option for the Islanders, while Jaroslav Halak (.883) has yet to win a game with the Rangers.
The truth is, I still don’t see any of these teams as playoff teams in the Metropolitan Division, but if I had to pick one, I’d say the Islanders.
So far they have overcome what I expected to be a glaring flaw (their lack of offense). The question for them is as to the continuity of their crime. For Rangers, it’s about whether or not they can fix their lack of depth.
I trust the carrots more, as they may have in-house solutions after all. The Rangers, therefore, have no more work to do. If someone participated in the playoffs, it would be the Islanders.