New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

The New York Rangers road trip has been a miserable affair for fans. How can the Blueshirts improve their fortune? By getting back to basics.

New York Rangers (18-9-3, 39 points, 2nd in NHL Metropolitan Division)
Calgary Flames ( 12-14-2, 26 points, 7th in NHL Pacific Division)
Tonight, 10:00  on MSG+
Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta

By Chris Wengert

It has been a rough few days for the New York Rangers.

The Blueshirts, who were first in the league a couple of weeks ago, have now lost two consecutive games to very mediocre teams.

Ranger fans have already started cannibalizing each other on various social platforms, arguing over the reason(s) why this Ranger team has been struggling lately.

To find the answer you don’t need to dig too far.

New York Rangers: Five Best & Worst Moves By Glen Sather

No need to check out the match ups, or look at the lines. And please, let’s not go anywhere near those fancy corsi stats.

All you need is the simple and very reliable eye test.

This sounds like a broken record, but overall the Rangers have been losing because of sloppy positioning.

Last night, our captain Ryan McDonagh and his trusty partner Dan Girardi were by far the biggest culprits.

Watch the defensive pair leave an Oilers player wide open in front of Henrik Lundqvist:

When learning to play hockey as a five year old, you’re taught that both defensemen should never chase the puck carrier.

If McDonagh kept his proper positioning in front of the net, he would have easily picked up the open man driving towards Lundqvist.

Basic positioning, and the offense is not off the hook either.

When learning how to play hockey as an offensive player, you’re taught to skate hard to your own zone when back checking. Well school was in session last night:

Emerson Etem played his position perfectly, back checking hard to picked up his man. On the other hand, Tanner Glass decided to coast back leaving Teddy Purcell wide open for a prime scoring opportunity.

Break downs like this will lose you games every time.

It doesn’t matter how talented your players are or who the goalie is, if you leave players wide open in the “Royal Road” as former Rangers goaltender Steve Valiquette calls it, the opponent will eventually score.

Ken Campbell-Hockey News
Ken Campbell-Hockey News

Tonight, the Rangers have another chance to fix these simple mistakes against the Calgary Flames.

Don’t let that last place Pacific Division record fool you though, as Calgary has won four straight. Two of these wins have been against strong teams in the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars.

The Rangers Will Win Tonight If:

They can get back to executing basic defensive positioning.

This sounds so simple, yet it’s mind boggling why an upper-tier NHL team is having so much trouble with the concept.

Everyone will be looking for McDonagh and Girardi to set the example, especially after last night’s debacle.

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I've been a die hard Rangers and Giants fan for as long as I can remember. I enjoy sharing opinions, and hearing from fans that love their teams just as much as I do. Henrik Lundqvist makes all of us look like mere mortals. E-mail me at: