We have seen what the depth in the Rangers roster is pre deadline acquisitions and it’s nothing too special.
The pre-deadline Rangers needed to rely on their special teams and their goaltending to help get them to their 50 win mark. Their top two lines were stellar at driving play and putting up points but the bottom of the Rangers forward group left a lot to be desired for fans.
Chris Drury went to work at the deadline and added three players who really help to round out the group and push the fringe players out of the lineup. Copp, Vatrano, and Tyler Motte have all come in and paid off immediate dividends for their new team. They’ve also helped push the likes of McKegg, Gauthier, and Brodzinski out of the lineup and it’s no coincidence that the Rangers have looked like a much better group.
Saturday’s loss against the Bruins exposed what the Rangers don’t have if some of their more impact players are hurt, and that’s NHL caliber depth.
Gauthier and McKegg were pressed back into action on Saturday afternoon after the Rangers lost Andrew Copp and Filip Chytil during their 6-3 drubbing of the Islanders Thursday night on Long Island. Without Copp on the 2nd line fans were treated to another showing of Dryden Hunt on the second line which wasn’t a sight for sore eyes in the least. McKegg was back on the team’s 4th line and while that generally shouldn’t bother people, you saw what having McKegg back in the lineup gives you and it is nothing much.
When you see what Copp has meant to this group early in his Ranger career it can’t be overstated how important it is to have him healthy when game one of the playoffs rolls around. It also can’t be overstated how important it will be to get Kakko and Chytil back at 100% and to keep them healthy once the playoffs start. Giving Gallant a full compliment of NHL caliber players will go a long way to helping the Blueshirts go deep in the postseason. Especially when you consider how different the Rangers have looked at even strength since the deadline and just how poorly the Rangers performed at even strength against the Bruins on Saturday without Kakko, Copp, and Chytil.
It sounds so cliche but health at this time of year is so incredibly crucial to any team’s potential deep postseason run. The Rangers are certainly no exception to this.
There are few factos that could derail the Blueshirts en route to a very special spring time but health might play the biggest part in whether or not this club can survive the early rounds. As much as you need to have a great team to win it all you also need to be able to survive the war of attrition that is the Stanley Cup playoffs.