The New York Rangers could be in trouble. They are facing a handful of issues, but which one will break the Blueshirt’s back?
New York Rangers (39-23-7, 85 points, 2nd in NHL Metropolitan Division)
Anaheim Ducks (32-22-8, 72 points, 4th in NHL Metropolitan Division)
Tonight, 10:30 PM on MSG+
Honda Center, Anaheim CA
By Chris Wengert
The New York Rangers have faced some adversity lately, but what team doesn’t this time of year?
Whether it be injuries, bad coverage, or questionable coaching moves, the Rangers have had their plate full when it comes to problems.
It’s a simple equation too.
Good teams are able to overcome their problems, and the bad teams don’t. Those later of those two always have plenty of time to work on their golf swings.
The Rangers’ teams from the past couple of years have faced and overcome some serious adversity, but this year’s team has consistently demonstrated an inability to fix some chronic problems.
Not all problems are created equally though.
Of all the issues facing Rangerstown, which one could ultimately doom this Blueshirts team?
For my money it’s their lack of finish.
This team has not demonstrated that they can finish games, and the truth is quite to the contrary.
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The Rangers have had a knack for losing games in the closing minutes. Gone are the days of that impenetrable defensive shell, and gone are the days of allowing a team to fire a copious number of shots at Henrik Lundqvist without consequence.
Yeah Rangers’ fans, those days are gone for good.
Instead, what Rangers’ fans have witnessed this season are blown opportunities in the closing minutes of many, many hockey games.
This has happened against the Washington Capitals, New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings, and Chicago Blackhawks, just to mention a few.
It’s obvious that the Rangers won’t enjoy much post-season success if they cannot clamp down defensively at the end of games.
But why are they having so much trouble finishing this year?
When you think about it, the players that were on the ice during crunch time last year are the same as this year’s squad minus Carl Haeglin. While Hags was a strong defensive player, he wasn’t exactly a juggernaut.
Are Rangers’ fans simply witnessing the gradual decline of an aging and banged up team?
It’s most likely a combination of problems that have plagued the Rangers all season. Bad coverage, weak goals given up by Hank, lost face offs…you know all of them by now.
Here was a situation when a few of those issues bit the Rangers in, you guessed, the closing minutes of a big game:
Brutal, I know.
With Antti Raanta starting against the Anaheim Ducks tonight, the Rangers will need to be even more aware of their defense coverage, especially if they find a lead that goes deep into the third period.
AV states that @ARaanta31 starts in goal for #NYR tomorrow and Oscar Lindberg is the likely healthy scratch if Tanner Glass can play
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 15, 2016
The West coast trip will be a great test for the Rangers.
Will they wilt and go quietly into the good night, or will they prove that this Rangers team still has a heart beat?
Or perhaps the most important question: Will they show that they can finish?