The New York Rangers have completed a scintillating regular season, with their 110 points and overall record of 52-24-6 having defied any reasonable pre-season expectations. As the page turns towards the team’s first true postseason appearance since 2016-17 (let’s not count that 2020 bubble qualifier round) and the emotional roller coaster it is sure to producer, it is worth briefly reflecting on the 2021-22 regular season, which was one of the best ones in team history.
This Season’s Place in History
As any longtime Rangers fan knows, the franchise’s 95-year history is naturally full, but not as rich as some would like; the mere four Stanley Cups — including one in the past 81 years — are the most glaring example of that. For better or for worse, that makes the 2021-22 regular season all the more noteworthy.
The team’s 110 points are the third-most in franchise history, behind only the 2014-15 team (113 points) and the Stanley Cup-winning 1993-94 team (112 points). Both of those teams actually won the Presidents’ Trophy as well, with the 2014-15 team falling one win short of a berth in the Stanley Cup Final (and we will not speak of that any further).
With that being said, NHL seasons of many years ago used to be shorter, which necessitates looking at points percentage. When examining that metric, the Rangers of the early 1970s reached 109 points in a 78-game regular season in back-to-back seasons (1970-71 and 1971-72) under head coach Emile Francis. That was good for a points percentage of .699 each year, which is the best in team history. The 1971-72 team lost in the Cup Final, while the 1970-71 team lost in the league semifinals.
This year’s Rangers finished with a points percentage of .671 — fourth-best in franchise history behind the aforementioned pair of 1970s teams and the 2014-15 club (.689). It’s a slightly better mark than the Cup-winning team of 1993-94, whose points percentage was .667 thanks to a longer 84-game season.
In fact, from a purely numerical standpoint, the 2021-22 Rangers have a couple of interesting similarities to the 1993-94 team. Their record of 52-24-6 is almost identical to the 1993-94 team’s 52-24-8 mark (with the eight, of course, being ties, which no longer exist). They also have a 52-goal scorer (Chris Kreider), just like the 1993-94 team (Adam Graves). Of course, the Rangers and their fans would like the similarities to continue into the playoffs.
Some Further Perspective
I’d be remiss to not call out the caveats that are inevitable with the difficulty of comparing across eras. While this 110-point, .671-points-percentage season is among the very best in team history, it has been easier for teams to pick up points since the 1999-00 season, when the “loser point” for overtime losses came into existence. Then, after the 2004-05 season was lost to a lockout, the 2005-06 season instituted the shootout and thus the end of ties. So a third point being given out in a game became even more common, diluting the ability to compare points percentages across eras with full validity.
Nevertheless, the 110 points and .671 points percentage for the Rangers this year are still the second-best team marks in both the loser point and shootout eras. No matter what happens in the playoffs, 2021-22 holds a special place in team history given the regular-season record, Kreider’s goal-scoring surge, and Igor Shesterkin’s historic goaltending campaign. Only four years after “the letter” and right on the heels of last year’s stunning front office shakeup, the Rangers were somehow able to put together this special season. It has been a refreshing resurgence for the Blueshirts, and hopefully, for them and their fans, a harbinger of sustained success for the next number of years.