The New York Rangers played their best game in months against the Philadelphia Flyers, but let’s not forget how the team played before that.
It’s always nice when a team breaks a losing streak and the New York Rangers did that Tuesday night. But one victory does nothing to erase the pitiful performances given throughout the entire season.
That win over the Flyers may have been the team’s best game in a couple of months. They allowed under 30 shots on goal and scored five goals for the first time since Dec. 9. These numbers are great and all but the fact that it took 39 days to get back to it is worrisome.
There is too much work that this team has to do before we should start getting excited about them again. Even when we were excited, they weren’t really a team that kept us too entertained. This was a result of poor play and the lack of scoring that has plagued them the last month or so.
Starting on the defensive side of things, the Rangers were all over the place until Tuesday. We have seen it way too many times with this team; they are inept at playing in head coach Alain Vigneault‘s man-to-man system. The amount of odd-man rushes and players wide open in high-quality scoring chances have increased. With the Buffalo Sabres in town, this will be something to be on the lookout for, considering how they played the Rangers in the Winter Classic.
In that win over the Flyers, the Rangers did a great job at limiting Philadelphia’s attack. Henrik Lundqvist hardly had to face any real danger. The lone goal that he allowed was deflected on its way to the net. The Rangers also did a fantastic job of using the body and taking the man in front of the net. That part of their game has been missing with the departure of Dan Girardi, who played an integral role in doing so. Whether or not that carries over has yet to be seen.
Their play in front of Lundqvist is the number one priority for them. They have talked about it at length and things don’t change. Until they continue to prove they can play well in front of Lundqvist for an extended period of time, then we can finally get excited for real.
It was a pleasant surprise seeing the Rangers score five goals Tuesday. It especially felt good seeing Rick Nash netting a couple of goals himself. The fact that has to even be said should be concerning. This Rangers team used to be able to score with the best of the best and Rick Nash was a main reason why. Now, offensively Nash hasn’t been scoring consistently and the Rangers are hurting because of it.
You have to wonder if some of the goals the Rangers have scored against Philadelphia would have been goals if they were playing against a better goalie. The Rangers had great numbers against Brian Elliott coming into Tuesday’s game and those trends do hold some merit.
If this season has shown us anything is that this Rangers team always comes back down to earth. They got off to a slow start and dug themselves out of it. Following that, they went on a good run for a month and a half and then reality sank in.
This could be the start of another good run. If so that is great, but this time don’t get suckered back in. Don’t forget the team that allowed over 30 shots for 13 consecutive games. The team that has scored three goals in a game three times over their last 11 games. A team that consistently gives high-quality scoring chances.
Until they can prove that this wasn’t just a one-time thing. That they can play at the level they played Tuesday night is when we can start to believe again.