3 reasons the New York Rangers are Stanley Cup contenders

The New York Rangers have cruised through the first half of the NHL season at the top of the Metropolitan Division and should be in the conversation as Cup favorites, here's why.

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers
Washington Capitals v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The New York Rangers have looked almost unstoppable so far in 2023-24 NHL season, until recently when they lost four in a row and allowed 18 total goals against over the four-game skid. It was the first time this season that the Blue Shirts sustained a losing streak of that length. The NHL season has hit the halfway point and from here on out, every point matters.

What's really incredible about this team is their determination, as following a loss this season, they have been able to secure the two points the very next game except on two instances: the first two games of the season on Oct. 4 and 5, as well as Dec. 5 and 9.

The Rangers spend a lot of time in the offensive zone, 42.1% in fact, which ranks in the 75th percentile. Sustained time on offense and strong chemistry within the line pairings combined with a face-off win rate at 54%, which ranks second in the NHL, continues to lead to lethal combinations of players who can find the back of the net.

The Rangers currently sit at the top of the Metropolitan Division with 58 points, but the buffer between first and sixth place is only 10 points. Essentially it's anyone's game where we're at now, but the Rangers definitely have reasons as to why they should be favored.

3. The Rangers have Artemi Panarin

The Breadman is on fire this season!

The Rangers signed Panarin on July 1, 2019, the day the league entered free agency. He immediately had a career year, besting his previous season's total in points by eight, getting to a then-high of 95. But look at him now, he's since been made an alternate captain and just 43 games into the 2023-24 campaign he is at 60 points and leads the team in goals (27) and assists (33). Looking at the league numbers as a whole -- his 27 goals and 60 points rank him fourth on both lists among all active skaters.

Panarin has hit some of his own milestones too. He reached 400 points with the New York Rangers organization on Jan. 14, achieving this feat the quickest in Rangers history in only 310 games. The next person on this list is Mark Messier, who reached 400 points in 322 games. Panarin started this season on a 15-game point streak too, which passed the previous longest of 14 games held by Rod Gilbert from the 1972-73 season. He's having a career year and the numbers speak for themselves.

Panarin puts himself in the right place at the right time, seemingly, all the time. Couple that awareness with the fact that he ranks in the 99th percentile in shots on goal, you get a scoring machine. Then he does stuff like this:

If the Rangers did not have him on their squad, we may not be talking about a Cup in NYC.