New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

Over these past 11 games, the New York Rangers are playing the opposite of how they began the season, and it’s concerning.

By Patrick Comia

It’s been 11 games, and things are just strange in Rangerstown.

On Friday night, a night that should have been belonged to the guys in red, white, and blue (i.e. Glen Sather honor, Alain Vigneault‘s 1000th NHL coached game, the Edmonton Oilers), was anything but.

For starters, New York went down early to Edmonton, perhaps to give the hardcore fans at Rexal Place something to remember from the old days of the Oilers dynasty. Don’t know why you would considering you are there to win the game, but let’s digress.

Then, life appeared to breathe into the Blueshirts as they came back three times in the game to even the scoreboard, seemingly taking a page from the New Jersey Devils playbook. One, could sense the Rangers were going to pull the game out after Rick Nash put the power into a power play opportunity in the third period.

That’s what Rangers’ fans have been wanting to see out of the power forward, more of that effort. Yes, you can’t really fault Nash this season. Even though he isn’t scoring at a torrid pace as his 42-goal campaign last year, he’s been a defensive force and a man that’s been everything for the Rangers (i.e. even strength, power play, and penalty kill).

If you were a fan of the Rangers watching last night, you could sense the team was going to come back and win the whole darn thing, or at least push things to overtime and get a much-needed point out of their efforts.

There were less than two minutes left after Nash scored. You had to believe things were going in the Rangers way.

Then, somehow, they gave up two goals to just suck the life and wash away any hope of a victory.

Yes, it was Sather’s night. It was supposed to be Vigneault’s night. Heck, it was supposed to be the Rangers’ night. It seemed all the stars aligned in Edmonton. Then, boom, every fan’s head exploded in unison after losing it in the waning moments of a game that was supposed to be their’s.

The Oilers game was brought up because it tells the story of how the Rangers season is going. If a friend asks you to describe how the Blueshirts are doing this season, point them out to the game Friday night.

Tell them how you stayed up late to watch if someone would do something special that would give you a sense that these past 11 games were just a bump in the road.

You may have given an excuse like you were staying in to save money, but really wanting to watch your beloved team, or how you cancelled “couples time” with your wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend, because you were a hardcore Rangers fan and wanted to remain faithful to them instead.

Well, in the end, we all got disappointed.

Disappointed in the fact the Rangers cannot get out of their own way. It’s like they don’t know what momentum is, when it’s sitting in their hands.

One moment they look like the team we know they are: dominant, creative, unwavering. Then the next, the Rangers become: faulty, undisciplined, and can’t execute the simplest of plays.

It makes one scratch their head and ask, “what are we watching here? Where’s the team from earlier in the season that tore up the NHL and looked unbeatable?”

If someone has the answer, let us know. That brand of hockey needs to come back in a big way before things spiral downward.

Read More: Rangers Fans- It’s Time To Lower Our Expectations

Bringing Back Familiarity

You know that old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Well, apply this to the Rangers.

Vigneault must have been thinking the same thing, reuniting the scoring lines that were clicking earlier in the season. The trio of Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and Derick Brassard became one in Calgary Saturday night, and looked great playing together. It seems this line knows where each other is at.

Why break up a good thing, Vigneault?

Of course, we understand spreading the scoring up and down the lineup, so no team is able to target one specific line to shut down everything.

However, it’s frustrating to see a player having to make up the lack of production or help jump-start a group of players.

At least with Nash, Zuccarello, and Brassard, you have a consistent threat on the ice for you. The odds of scoring from one of them increases when they are together.

Defensive change-up

In front of their own net the Rangers have been doing a porous job of protecting Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta.

You don’t have to look much further than last Friday.

Even the great Patrick Roy would have a hard-time fighting that one off.

Ulf Samuellson has got to preach that over-committing on the puck-handler leaves people open. Situational awareness needs to be practiced.

And please, stop saying you need to be better, and do it. Practice what you preach.

The Rangers on the blue line have given up 12 goals on their three-game road trip through Western Canada. That’s an average of four goals per game given up, which is opposite from their season average of 2.26.

How can this be with so many mistakes being seen in their own zone?

It’s the same things over and over again, and it is beginning to look like lunacy.

Supporting cast needed

As a fan of this beloved team optimism always holds out when watching the Rangers in action. Not quick to judge, not quick to fingerpoint.

There’s always a side that doesn’t give into the negativity. But, the point has been reached that the same old faces are just not cutting it. Aside from a few plyayers who have shown promise of being the team’s future (i.e. Oscar Lindberg, Dylan McIlrath, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast), the talent pool is stagnant and might be time to move some pieces and resign to building around this new group.

Understand it’s Kevin Hayes’s sophomore year in the NHL and he’s probably hit the dreaded “wall.” Chris Kreider is just not the Kraken we thought he would be. But, these were two players Rangers fans wanted to see make a bigger impact and perhaps propel the team to finally taking that next step.

At this point it’s been anything but. While Hayes dangles his way with through defenses and holds onto the puck, Kreider is just throwing himself around, sometimes not even doing that, not even registering on the opposing team’s radar.

Sure, Kreider scored a goal, and it was something that fans know and want Kreider to do on a consistent basis.

But for some reason that is not being witnessed. It seems like the only time he shows up is when there is a penalty called on the Blueshirts, and it’s not even impactful, it’s demoralizing. A player of his talent should be taking games over with his speed and strength.

It’s just mind-boggling that this team can be so mediocre and keep playing the same way every night. How much more can Rangers brass take before saying enough is enough?

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I'm a blogger trying to make it in this world. Have been, and always will be, a fan of the NYR and NYG. Writing for the New Jersey Devils cause, well, someone has to do it!