Rangers make large assertion, take 2-0 sequence lead on Lightning

When the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals started there was each purpose to be a minimum of considerably skeptical of the New York Rangers possibilities.

They had been getting carried by goaltending and particular groups by means of the primary two rounds, and had been going to be going through a matchup with the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning who additionally occurred to have a goalie that might match Igor Shesterkin. It was going to be a giant check to see simply how far the younger Rangers have come.

Through two video games they’re passing that check with flying colours.

Thanks to their 3-2 win over the Lightning in Game 2 on Friday night time, the Rangers now have a 2-0 lead within the sequence because it shifts to Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon and are simply two wins away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final for the primary time for the reason that 2013-14 season.

The two key elements in Game 2: Shesterkin outplaying Andrei Vasilevskiy for the second sport in a row, and the Rangers’ younger gamers persevering with to make an enormous impression.

Let’s begin with Shesterkin.

He has been the Rangers’ MVP all season and has continued that degree of play into the playoffs. Outside of these two nightmare video games early within the First Round in Pittsburgh he has been as dominant as a goalie might be within the playoffs, shutting down prime offenses and standing tall it doesn’t matter what kind of work load he’s requested to face. In phrases of scoring possibilities and anticipated objectives towards the Rangers have been one of many backside groups within the playoffs defending, however Shesterkin has sensational after they have wanted him. That consists of within the last two minutes in Game 2 on Friday the place he helped the Rangers protect a one-goal lead.

After Friday’s win he now has a .930 save proportion for the playoffs and has been at .912 or higher in every of the previous 11 video games. He has been above .930 in seven of the previous eight video games. It doesn’t matter what else is occurring on the ice, goaltending like that may take you a good distance.

But it’s not simply Shesterkin proper now that’s carrying issues for the Rangers.

Their different younger gamers are additionally persevering with to make a big impact.

Their “Kid Line” scored one other purpose on Friday when Kaapo Kakko scored to present the Rangers their first lead of the night time, and defenseman Adam Fox continued his current dominance from the blue with a monster sport that included a pair of assists. He now has 24 factors in 16 playoff video games, together with 4 consecutive multi-point video games. He has had a minimum of two factors in 5 of the previous six Rangers’ video games whereas additionally enjoying main minutes because the Rangers’ prime defenseman.

The Rangers will not be an ideal staff, however their expertise at a whole lot of key positions is legit they usually have an ideal core of younger gamers which are quickly creating into stars. Shesterkin and Fox main the way in which, however the emergence of Kakko, Alexis Lafrenière , Filip Chytil and K’Andre Miller (who additionally scored a purpose on Friday) is a game-changer for each the short-term and long-term outlooks. Add in veterans like Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider, and there’s the muse of a very good staff right here that’s beginning to put every part collectively.


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Adam Gretz is a author for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or observe him on Twitter @AGretz.

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