New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

The New York Rangers lost a brutal game to the Islanders last night. Despite the banter, it doesn’t bode well for their playoff preparation.

By Chris Wengert

Another day, another ugly loss for New York Rangers’ fans.

Coming into this game there was a lot of noise about whether or not the Rangers should “play to win.”

A couple of losses will ensure that the Rangers will play the Florida Panthers rather than the white hot Pittsburgh Penguins.

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While that scenario may look good on paper, this Rangers team is too banged up and not talented enough to simply turn it on in the playoffs.

The losses of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi are obviously significant as last night showed.

Last night was not a great demonstration for Dan Boyle, especially if you are one of those fans who perpetually argue that he is a better option than Dylan McIlrath.

While McIlrath certainly shouldn’t take over Boyle’s spot in the lineup, he may be the better option against physical teams like the Islanders.

But that’s just the problem right now, because the Girardi and McDonagh injuries take away any options that the Rangers had on the blue line.

It really would be a shame if the Rangers are once again bounced out of the playoffs because of key injuries.

Yes, every team faces injuries, but in the past couple of seasons key players have been bit by the injury bug at the most inopportune of times.

I still say that the Rangers would have made the finals last season if Mats Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh, Martin St. Louis, and Kevin Klein were serviceable.

Yeah I know, I’m living in the past.

The argument of “losing is a good thing so that the Rangers play the Florida Panthers” is just preposterous.

Lett me ask you this: why wouldn’t you want your team playing it’s best hockey before the playoffs?

“Turning it on” is a pipe dream for this Rangers team. The 2015-2016 Blueshirts have been so inconsistent, so why anyone would think that they will be capable of such a feat is beyond me.

As former the New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards once said:

You play to win the game.

Outside of the John Tavares empty netter, all of the Islander goals were a direct result of bad defensive coverage.

And that’s team defensive coverage, not just the defenseman.

Going through all of the examples would just be torture, but take a look at Eric Staal on this play:

Gliding tripod alert…

Staal allowed Casey Cizikas to blow right through the middle of the ice on this play without even making an effort to cover him.

That is just not good enough.

If the Rangers are going to make it past the first four games of the first round, much less to the second round, they are going to need all hands on deck in their defensive zone.

Ironically enough, the Rangers will need to play a Tortorella-like style without McDonagh and Girardi, because the forwards are not backchecking hard enough and the defenseman are incapable of moving opponents out of Hanks sight line.

For those who are keeping score, that’s a career high seven pulls this season for Henrik Lundqvist. Yikes.

Technically it’s eight, but one pull was for an injury.

While some are probably thinking that Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings will be a throw-away game, that mindset would be folie.

The Rangers need to build any momentum and confidence they can as Game One approaches, otherwise the players will have three or four days to sit around and marinate in doubt.

Play to win the game.

NEXT: Islanders Beatdown The Rangers At MSG, Take Third In Metro (Highlights)


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: