As it concerns the New York Rangers current situation, there is no hard-fought feeling after most recent loss to Dallas Stars.Even though the New York Rangers almost came back from a four-goal deficit in Tuesday’s 7-6 loss at home to the Dallas Stars, anybody who thinks the game was a moral victory for the Blueshirts is kidding themselves.
Comeback or no comeback, the loss to Dallas only further emphasized some of the biggest concerns the Rangers face going down the stretch.
Yet again, the Rangers played down to the level of and were defeated by a mediocre opponent. Did they put forth a valiant effort after entering the third period down 7-3? Yes, but who cares. They should have never found themselves in that hole to begin with.
Why does this team always have to wait till they’re in dire straits to play in a desperation mode? They should be playing like that from the moment the puck is dropped.
Throughout the season, the Rangers have had a tendency to have awful defensive lapses where the team allows multiple goals in a matter of minutes, or even seconds. Even in a league that has become very high scoring, it is still unrealistic to be a serious contender with these types of holes on defense.
In Tuesday’s defeat, it was two goals scored against them in 12 seconds in the first period, giving the Stars a 2-1 lead. To make matters worse, not even a minute after narrowing a 4-1 deficit to 4-3 midway through the second period, the Rangers give up a soft goal and then let in two more in under five minutes. There is only one word to describe letting that type of momentum slip away, especially when the home crowd is behind you: inexcusable.
The Rangers had a similar lapse last Saturday in their 5-4 defeat on the road at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. Holding onto a 3-2 lead, the Blueshirts all of a sudden gave up three goals in 62 seconds.
And there have been quite a few other instances of this throughout the season.
There was the game right before Thanksgiving against the Pittsburgh Penguins where the Rangers gave up four goals in under 10 minutes in the second period. Anybody remember that disastrous loss to the Minnesota Wild two days before Christmas?
Even during wins, this has been an issue too.
In their December 27 win against the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers still found themselves in an early 2-0 hole, not even five minutes into the game, before they rallied for the win.
Defense has been a major problem for the Rangers all season and besides All-Star Ryan McDonagh, none of the team’s defensemen have been reliable. Guys like Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are clearly not the same players anymore and Brady Skjei has the potential to be a solid defenseman, but he is not quite there yet.
As the trade deadline looms, the Rangers front office might want to look at making some additions on defense.
Then there is the declined play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. It is one thing to let in a few soft goals here and there, but he is clearly not seeing the puck and letting shots get by him that he has not excuse not to stop. The Rangers have to take some sort of extreme course of action about this whether it is sitting Lundqvist the remaining five games before the all-star break or naming Antti Raanta the starter in goal once he returns from injury.
At the very least, Magnus Hellberg, who had a respectable third period against Dallas after taking over for Lundqvist, should get the start in Toronto against the Maple Leafs this Thursday.
Given the Rangers tendency to choke defensively, it is frightening to think about them going up against some of hockey’s elite teams. Can you imagine them playing the Penguins or Washington Capitals? The way they play they might allow more than 10 goals against one of those teams.
Also, before we can even talk about going deep in the playoffs, making it is far from a guarantee for the Rangers. They currently only have a seven-point lead for the final wild-card spot. If they keep stumbling the like they have the past three games, that lead could be gone before they know it.
Now is a great time for the Rangers to figure out how they’ll get it together and avoid these sudden lapses in games.
Their loyal fan base deserves much more than a team not capable of getting past the first round of the playoffs … or even making it at all.