The New York Rangers enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs atop the NHL. The Blueshirts finished the regular season as winners of the Presidents Trophy for claiming the league's best record. That certainly gives them a ton of momentum heading into their first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals.

The Rangers have come close in recent playoffs past. And yet, they have fallen short each time. This trend dates back to 2014 when they fell in the Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings. It also includes trips to the Eastern Conference Final before losing in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As an Original Six team, there is pressure on them to succeed. Their fanbase demands success, but they haven't seen a Stanley Cup championship since 1994. Beyond the history of the team, New York has an aging core that is now on the wrong side of 30. If they are going to find that next gear, they need to do so soon.

The Rangers prepare for a Capitals team that willed themselves into the tournament. And as the league's best regular season team, the Blueshirts are expected to win in dominant fashion. However, there is one flaw with New York that may hold them back in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And it's a flaw they've attempted to address already.

Rangers struggle with even-strength offense

New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafrenière (13) and New York Rangers center Jack Roslovic (96) celebrate with New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck (16) after scoring the game clinching goal against the New York Islanders after shoot outs at Madison Square Garden.
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers have a rather high-powered offense. New York averaged 3.39 goals for per game, which ranked seventh in the NHL. This offensive success is evident on the power play, as well. The Blueshirts had the third-best power play unit in the league, scoring 26.4% of the time on the man advantage.

However, their offensive success is not as evident in their even-strength play. Again, the Rangers are dominant on the power play. They scored the fourth most total power play goals in 2023-24. But at even strength, New York loses a bit of their offensive punch. In fact, their even strength goal differential was +1.

Looking beneath the surface a bit, we can see more supporting evidence for their even strength struggles. The Rangers ranked 20th with 56.9 even-strength offensive goals above replacement. On the power play, they managed 27.9 offensive goals above replacement. Only three teams in the league had a better mark than this.

In round one, the Rangers have a favorable matchup. The Capitals finished the regular season as one of the worst overall offensive teams in the entire league. They finished 28th in even-strength offensive goals above replacement, and 21st in power play offensive goals above replacement.

If they advance past Washington, though, they may struggle to score against other teams. Both of their potential second-round opponents — the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders — ranked higher in even-strength offensive goals above replacement. And Carolina is one of the three teams with more offensive goals above replacement on the man advantage.

If New York goes on a deep run, they will face all sorts of offensive juggernauts. The Toronto Maple Leafs led the NHL in even-strength offensive goals above replacement. Behind them are contenders like the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, and Boston Bruins.

The Rangers have a lot going for them. New York has found success with the system implemented by Peter Laviolette in his first year on Broadway. However, they have to be able to match teams offensively during five-on-five play. If they can't, they will almost certainly fall short of the Stanley Cup again in 2024.