Rangers Need to Make Some Adjustments

If you are a New York Rangers fan, you have much to be happy about regarding your favorite hockey team.

As of this writing, the Blueshirts are first in the Metropolitan Division, second in the Eastern Conference, and fifth in the NHL with a record of 26-11-2 and 54 points. Their 54 points put them two points behind the league-leading Winnipeg Jets. That said, however, the team has not been playing consistent hockey lately. They have lost two straight games by a combined score of 10-6, and while they generated enough offense to win those games, they were lackluster in other areas of their game.

As such, if the Rangers want to get back to being one of the most consistent teams in the league and continue to build on their lead in their division, Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette is going to need to rally his troops to have them change a few things. For starters, the team needs to tighten up defensively. A good example of their recent stretch of poor defensive play came on Monday night, January 8th, in the team’s 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden. Yes, the team only allowed 26 shots, but it was where they were allowing shots from that hurt them the most.

Time and time again against the Canucks, the Rangers were out of position defensively and left goaltender Igor Shesterkin out to dry. They allowed the Canucks to generate a lot of high-quality scoring chances, and when you do that against the Canucks, currently the league’s top-scoring team, you are asking for trouble.

Speaking of doing a better job of keeping the puck out of their net, the team needs to get better goaltending from both Shesterkin and Jonathan Quick. After allowing all six goals on Monday night, Shesterkin, 28, is currently 16-9 with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage, numbers that are not very Shesterkin-like.

It also appears that Quick, 37, has returned to earth after being one of the best goaltenders in the league for the first two-plus months of the season. As of this writing, Quick is 9-2-0-2 with a 2.44 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage, and two shutouts.

With that said, Shesterkin should take a look at what Quick is doing and motivate himself to be much better than he has been. Quick has been the better goaltender for the Rangers this season, but if this team wants to have any chance of being real Stanley Cup contenders, they are going to need Shesterkin to be at his very best.

Lastly, the Rangers need to get better play from their bottom six forwards. Right now, they are simply not producing, and instead, the team is relying on the top two lines to do all the heavy lifting. The first line consisting of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Blake Wheeler have combined for 39 goals and 89 points. The second line of Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, and Alexis Lafreniere have combined for 48 goals and 122 points.

While players like Will Cuylle (11 points) and Jimmy Vesey (13 points) have done a good job of chipping in offensively from where they are in the lineup, the others have not stepped up. This is where the team misses Filip Chytil (concussion symptoms) and Kaapo Kakko, though Kakko is back practicing with the team and is getting closer to returning to playing in games.

Again, the Rangers are still in a very good position when it comes to the standings, being in a playoff spot, and potentially being an extremely tough team to play against in the postseason. The team just needs to play tighter defensively, get some consistent goaltending, and more production from their bottom six if they want to win when it matters most.

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Will Don Sweeney Disappoint in Free Agency?

The Boston Bruins hired General Manager Don Sweeney on May 20, 2015. Sweeney has signed 216 players, drafted 54, and made 42 trades since that time. Bruins fans would probably like to forget about some of the draft picks (especially the 1st round in 2015) and some of the trades (Kirill Kaprizov for a 5th-round […]

Read More

NHL: Deaths of Two Russian Hockey Players Brings Heightened Awareness to Mental Health

Roman Zyryanov, an 18-year-old Russian hockey player, tragically took his own life earlier this week, marking the second such incident involving a young hockey player in recent weeks. Zyryanov participated in the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod program for three seasons, spanning from U16 to U18. Regrettably, this is the second loss of a player within the […]

Read More

Stanley Cup Finals Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Florida Panthers Game 3 | 06/13/2024

That certainly wasn’t a polite Game 2. I think every neutral fan should agree that officiating was questionable on both ends of the ice in Game 2, and I’m being nice when I word it that way. Leon Draisaitl throws a hit on Aleksandar Barkov that actually resulted in a cross-check to the face. Barkov […]

Read More