New York Rangers: Here's Why It's Not All The Defense's Fault
Brad Penner, USATSI

The New York Rangers are only two games into the regular season and fans are already starting to point fingers at the defense.

The New York Rangers may have lost 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues Saturday night, but they put up one heck of a fight against what is probably one of the better teams in the league.

I wasn’t able to watch the game live, so I was relegated to following social media for updates on how the team looked.

The fashion for which fans were talking on various platforms, things sounded bad.


Nick Holden should quit hockey, Marc Staal still stinks, and Dan Girardi is still to blame for global warming.

Then I was able to watch a re-run of the game and thought that perhaps I had the wrong game on. Things didn’t look horrible like I was led to believe.

It’s to the point now where New York Rangers’ fans will automatically blame the defense when a goal is scored, and it isn’t difficult to understand why. They were to blame for a good portion of losses last year.

But the past is the past and it’s time to stop putting every goal on the defense’s shoulders. That’s the easy way out of a more complex problem.

Upon further review, St. Louis’ goals were certainly not all of the defense’s fault.

Here’s why.

On this play, J.T. Miller‘s pass attempt is blocked and lands right on Valdimir Tarasenko’s stick.

Dan Girardi had no chance at catching Tarasenko and Miller is passed like a traffic cone. Ryan McDonagh should had positioned himself towards the center of the ice but is caught in no man’s land instead.

As a result, one of St. Louis’ best shooters in Tarasenko is allowed to skate into the Rangers’ zone uncontested.

This play is a combination of puck luck and bad coverage by Miller and McDonagh. Girardi had no chance of catching either St. Louis player and was right where he should have been on the ice.

When a defense is running well it can look like a well-choreographed dance. The pairings will switch their coverage to cover for their partners when it’s necessary. No matter what, both defensemen should never be caught on one side of the ice.

To help cover the slot, wingers have to make the effort to backcheck and cover an opposing player. When defensive pairings don’t cover for each other and wingers don’t cover an opponent, this happens.

On this play, all of the forwards are caught anticipating the breakout rather than covering their men.

Marc Staal should have switched spots with Nick Holden, who follows the play into the corner, which is the right play.

Mika Zibanejad is caught in no-mans land, as is Pavel Buchnevich. Both players try to stick check and assume the “I’m bending over and reaching to make it look like I’m trying hard,” pose.

Could Holden have tried to clear bodies out of the crease instead of stick check? Sure, but this play was a breakdown by all five of the players on the ice.

If you read the comments, though, you would have thought that Holden completely blew this play, when, in fact, he should be the last player to blame for the goal.

St. Louis’ power play goal was a combination of great passing and bad positioning by Jesper Fast.

As you can see from these videos, a well-oiled defense takes five players, not just two defensemen.

Everyone is quick to jump on players like Girardi, while McDonagh has been equally as responsible (if not more) for opposing goals.

But we never hear people giving the captain a hard time , do we?

Please SUBSCRIBE to ESNY's Daily Newsletter, ESNY City Stream. Every piece of content included yet CUSTOMIZED to your New York Sports-team allegiance:

ESNY City Stream

NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU