By Jenny Masters
After missing the playoffs three of the last four years, the Rangers are one of this NHL season’s biggest surprises.
New York beat the Blackhawks 6-2, its seventh win in a row, continuing the hottest start in franchise history. The Rangers have won a club-record 17 of their first 24 games and racked up 37 points, tied for fourth-best in the league.
The difference-maker has been Artemi Panarin. The Russian’s four points against Chicago included the 500th of his career — in only his 457th game.
- The 30-year-old carries the NHL’s second-highest salary cap hit ($11.6M).
- Among active NHL players, he required the fifth-fewest games to record 500 points.
- Panarin’s 1.101 career points per game are fifth among active players and 28th all-time.
- He is tied for sixth in the league in scoring with nine goals and 21 assists.
Their fourth-best GAA (2.46) and ninth-best goal differential (+15), meanwhile, can be chalked up to the stellar play of goaltender Igor Shesterkin.