Where Do We Go From Here? Rangers Have the Bends

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Gerard Gallant has been here before. He takes his team on a promising run and then follows it with a middling year that gets him fired. If he’s getting good sleep these days, he only has Ambien to thank. This is why it’s not surprising he has been reluctant to put the kids in a position to sink or swim and continues to favor defensively-minded veterans. He knows he has a mandate to win now, and anything short of another successful season jeopardizes his job. 

Perhaps if the Rangers hadn’t made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, Gallant might’ve had a little more wiggle room to falter and find what works. But that’s not the situation he finds himself in. The problem with the organization effectively declaring the rebuild over last year and operating with a win-now mandate is it puts little emphasis on ensuring the kids are given the opportunities to develop and succeed. 

And the real truth of the matter is Laffy, Kakko, and Chytil have to become consistent scorers. If they don’t, the expensive and non-movable contracts for star veterans means we’re looking at a team without a contention window and few options to rectify it. If this course isn’t corrected, the rapid ascent of the Rangers from rebuilding to playoff runs might’ve caused the bends.

It’s not all doom and gloom. This team is more than talented enough right now to compete with any team in the league, which is what makes their lackluster start and underwhelming efforts all the more frustrating. Going into the 3rd period of Monday night’s game against a struggling Blues team, no one could be blamed for expecting the Rangers to fold after taking an early lead like they have many times this season. But instead, in what might be the most shocking move Gallant has made since benching Kakko in game 6 of the ECF last year, he put Kakko and Lafrenière on the top line with Zibanejad. The new “media choice” line looked tenacious, notching two goals to give them the lead before Kreider iced the game with a short-handed goal.

So while there may be a glimmer of hope, it’s hard to put much faith in an uneven performance against a struggling team on the back of a fan favorite top line combo. If the Rangers don’t use that third period as a launchpad to reach their peak performance, Gallant’s slightly cooling hot seat will be back in the microwave. It would be surprising, but hardly unprecedented if Gallant doesn’t keep Zib + the kids line together for long. In his post-game interview, Gallant joked about the line being what the media wanted and seemed to imply he was throwing darts at the board. If the new top line doesn’t produce out of the gate, I’d expect Gallant to keep shuffling the lines the same as he did at the beginning of the season when the top line of Kreider Zibanejad and Kakko produced only positive analytics and not results.

A desperate man will do anything to survive, and Gallant is desperate. If he can’t right the ship right now, his tenure with the Rangers will end the same as his last coaching jobs, just a year sooner. 

In this week's episode we talk about Schnieder, Lindgren's future with NYR, and with Drury seemingly done with off seaon moves the outlook of this team.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Running it Back
  2. Guest Will Wright
  3. There's more to come……….Right ?
  4. Guest Colin Stephenson
  5. Guest HockeyStatMiner

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