Ten games is enough early feedback to tell us where the 2015-16 New York Rangers squad is excelling, faltering and/or holding the line.
By Nick Adams
Well? It’s better than last season.
A year ago, the New York Rangers were 5-4-1 with 11 points after 10 games. Henrik Lundqvist had given up six goals twice in consecutive losses early and, per usual, the “Chicken Littles” of Rangerstown were running around bumping into each other, looking for their helmets and safe place to hide from chunks of falling sky.
A year removed, the Rangers are 6-2-2 (H: 4-1-1; A: 2-1-1) after being the first NHL team to hit the 10-game waypoint. Only the molten-hot Montreal Canadiens (9-0-0) are ahead of them for the league lead in points.
So far, this team has been explosive, then flat. They’ve been dominant, then timid. They’ve been slammed around, but managed to out-skate and out-score opponents. They’ve had a three game win streak dashed by a three-game losing streak, seen a backup goalie not named “Cam” break that slump and despite having now thrown ~$7.4MM/yr at supposed “PP QBs,” the power play is no closer to being improved than is U.S. healthcare. Larry Brooks used the right word – it’s “confounding,”
Overall, early returns are positive, but enthusiasm about the team’s prospects ought to be tempered: there are clearly some dead spots that need attention, or a jump start.
Rookie forward Oscar Lindberg isn’t one of the dead spots. Lindberg is in a three-way tie with Anthony Duclair and Conor McDavid for the NHL lead in rookie goals (5) while Rick Nash (1G/2A -2) is the only player on the team with a negative +/- rating. The defense’s biggest contributions so far have been offensive (5G/11A/16P), but their overall submission can thus far be characterized as disjointed and sluggish. The biggest bright spot has been between the pipes, which is refreshing given Henrik Lundqvist’s penchant for slow starts.
Admittedly, ten games in is a little early to be doing a “Report Card” piece, but it represents enough data to provide early feedback on this season’s squad and tell us where the team is excelling, faltering, or holding the line. Besides, if Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault can look at a season in 8-10 game segments, why can’t we?