The 2022-2023 New York Rangers season came to a disappointing end with a 4-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Despite being the lower seed, the expectation was that the Rangers would make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The team was a year removed from a run to the Eastern Conference Final, and this year's team was arguably more talented. General manager Chris Drury added Vincent Trochek in the offseason to replace Ryan Strome as the second center on the team, which was a clear talent upgrade. He also added Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane at the NHL trade deadline.
Adding those players to a team with many established stars like Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad and Igor Shesterkin puts the Stanley Cup or bust label on the team. There are many reasons the Rangers took an early exit in the playoffs, let's get into it.
4. 5 on 5 ineptitude
Even during the Rangers' run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2022, the team struggled in five on five play. That has been the case for the Rangers for head coach Gerard Gallant's entire tenure with the team. That does not mean that all of the blame goes to Gerard Gallant. Outside of Chris Kreider, the top six of the Rangers disappointed, and we will get to one of those players later.
The Devils suffocated the Rangers with their speed, especially after games one and two. New Jersey completely dominated the Rangers in games five and seven. Even with Igor Shesterkin keeping the Rangers in the game as long as he could, it was a ticking time bomb.
3. Power Play Woes
The Rangers are reliant on their elite goaltender Igor Shesterkin and their power play. After coming out guns blazing in games one and two, the Rangers power play left much to be desired, and when you are dominated in five on five like the Rangers were, that spells disaster.
New York scored once per game in games three and four after coming home with a 2-0 lead in the series. The offense showed up in Game 6, but in Game 7, the power play needed to show up. It was not for a lack of chances, the Rangers had three power plays in the first period, and it would have been huge for momentum to get just one goal early in the game. That did not happen, and the rest is history.
2. Artemi Panarin's lack of scoring
Igor Shesterkin showed up, but the Rangers needed Artemi Panarin to show up. That did not happen, he did not score a goal in the series and recorded just two points. That is not enough from your star player who is getting paid $11.6 million.
This is the second season in a row that Panarin has disappointed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Rangers, and they desperately need him to show up in the future, because he takes up the biggest chunk of cap space. That did not happen this time.
1. Lack of adjustments
After games one and two, the Devils made adjustments. Not just by inserting Akira Schmid. New Jersey made adjustments to stop the Rangers power play, pressuring Adam Fox at the point. The five on five skewed more in favor of the Devils as the series went on. Gerard Gallant's staff did not make the necessary adjustments to counter.