Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba, left wing Alexis Lafrenière and center...

Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba, left wing Alexis Lafrenière and center Barclay Goodrow set before a face-off against the Bruins in the second period of an NHL game at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

At 27-14-8, in third place in the Metropolitan Division and sitting comfortably in a playoff spot, the Rangers are just about where most expected they’d be at the NHL All-Star break.

“I’m happy with where we’re at,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said after the Rangers beat Vegas, 4-1, on Friday night at the Garden. “We’ve played well. And we haven’t played perfect, like we did last year at times, but we’re still finding ways to win hockey games. So it’s coming. It’s a work in progress for us, but I like the position we’re at and the way we’re playing.’’

The Rangers’ record is good, certainly, especially given their start (11-10-5 in the first 26 games). They are 16-4-3 in their last 23, and that’s impressive.

“We had a tough start to the season,’’ defenseman Jacob Trouba said after Friday’s game. “I think we kind of found a way to fight through it. I think we’re playing better hockey.

“It’s not the greatest every night. I don’t think [Friday] was our ‘A’ game, but we played good enough, we got good goaltending and guys came up with big goals. It’s kind of the recipe we had a little bit last year in games, that you’re not your best but you still find a way to win.’’

The Rangers indeed have been finding ways to win, as they did last season. That resiliency became their identity on their way to a 52-win, 110-point season and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Final.

But this season is not last season. For one thing, goaltender Igor Shesterkin, an All-Star who is having a good year (21-8-7, 2.45 goals-against average, .918 save percentage), is not having the out-of-this-world season he did last year, when he was a runaway winner of the Vezina Trophy and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. He has been good but hasn’t stolen as many games as he did last season.

Artemi Panarin, who also is going to the All-Star Game next weekend, is not having the kind of season he did last year, either. He had 22 goals and 96 points in 75 games last season. At the break, he has 12 goals and 50 points in 49 games, which projects to 20 goals and 84 points over 82 games.

And while the Kid Line of Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko has been dynamite and old friend Jimmy Vesey (who came to training camp as a tryout) has been a nice addition to the roster, the Rangers, as presently constructed, don’t look like a team that belongs on the short list of Stanley Cup contenders.

For one thing, Panarin has not been able to recreate the chemistry with Vincent Trocheck that he had with Ryan Strome, whom the Rangers let go as a free agent last summer, when they signed Trocheck.

For another, the roster is crying out for a scoring right wing to play on one of the top two lines.

Kakko has done good work playing on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, or with Zibanejad and Lafreniere, or, briefly, with Zibanejad and Panarin. But for now, at least, Kakko is on the red-hot third line, with Lafreniere and Chytil, while the versatile Vesey and Barclay Goodrow hold down the right wing spots on the top two lines.

Both of those players can move up, down and all around the lineup as necessary, but neither seems the answer to the Rangers’ right wing problem. Kakko certainly could take a spot on one of the top two lines if Gallant decides to move him, but even if he does, the Rangers still would need someone else to play on the other.

So general manager Chris Drury is going to have to do some work to find someone he can bring in for that spot at the March 3 trade deadline. Ideally, he’ll find another Frank Vatrano, whom he acquired at last season’s deadline and who turned out to be a perfect fit on the right of Kreider and Zibanejad.

Chicago’s Patrick Kane has been connected to the Rangers since the summer because Chicago is rebuilding and because he and Panarin had chemistry as linemates when Panarin played for Chicago. But Kane missed some games recently with a lower-body injury, so how healthy is he?

San Jose’s Timo Meier is a name that’s been out there recently. He would make sense given the fact that Drury and Sharks GM Mike Grier have such a close relationship (they played college hockey together at Boston University and Grier worked as an adviser for Drury and the Rangers last season).

But it’s hard to see how the cap-strapped Rangers would be able to afford Meier, who would not be a rental. He will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer and likely will command a multiyear deal with a salary north of $9 million per season.

Whoever it is, Drury is going to have to bring someone in. It’s hard to see the Rangers replicating last season’s success without that.

Cuylle sent down. The Rangers returned F Will Cuylle to AHL Hartford on Saturday. Cuylle played in two games with the Rangersand had his first NHL fight Friday against Vegas’ Keegan Kolesar.

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