Despite Saturday’s loss, Rangers ‘happy’ with where they stand at halfway point of season

New York Rangers bench celebrate the goal against the Carolina Hurricanes scored by New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) during the first period at Madison Square Garden
New York Rangers bench celebrate the goal against the Carolina Hurricanes scored by New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) during the first period at Madison Square Garden / Dennis Schneidler - USA TODAY Sports

Saturday marked the halfway point of the 2022-23 NHL season for the New York Rangers.

It’s been a bit of an up-and-down first 41 games for Gerard Gallant’s team. Despite that, they find themselves trending in the right direction and towards the top of the Metropolitan Division.

The Blueshirts suffered a brutal loss on Saturday afternoon, as they gave up two third-period goals and ultimately fell to the Devils 4-3 in overtime. After 41 games, they sit comfortably in third place, still just a point behind New Jersey, with a 22-12-7 record and 53 points.

Prior to the loss on Saturday, Gallant told reporters he’s happy with how his group has played over the first half of the season.

“Just taking it one month at a time, one game at a time. It’s been good. There’s been trying times and there’s been good times. Right now we’re playing well and we’re looking to keep that going,” Gallant said. “I’m happy overall, we’re in a decent spot.”

The Rangers have been one of the better team in hockey of late. One of their biggest wins of the season came this past week, when they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 behind three third period goals.

What exactly has changed for this group? Captain Jacob Trouba says their just playing together and have gotten their confidence back.

“We found our way out of the start, which is nice. That weighed on a lot of guys. I feel like we’re a more confident group now than we were about 20 games ago. We’re playing better hockey coming here every night.. As a team we’re just playing better hockey, more confident and playing with more togetherness.”

Their stars have came to play, with Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox leading the way. The youngsters -- Kappo Kakko, Filip Chytil, Jimmy Vesey, Braden Schneider, and K’Andre Miller -- have stepped up as well.

And, of course, Igor Shesterkin has been a rock for them between the pipes. The goaltender, who will represent the team at this year’s All-Star game, currently leads the Metropolitan Division with 18 wins.

So, what is it that Gallant is looking for from his team over the next 82 games? He says they just have to "keep working, see if you can get as many wins as you can get, and just stay in the hunt.”

That will start on Tuesday night when they take on old friend Mats Zuccarello and the Minnesota Wild back home at The Garden.