Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers needed to come out of the All-Star break strong. Instead, it was more of the same from a team that has clearly lost its way.

As the horn sounded to end the first game back from the All-Star break, the scoreboard said all that was needed to be said: Toronto Maple Leafs 4, New York Rangers 0.

That’s how things would end, thanks to the usual flat, slow, emotionless play we’ve seen from this time far too often this season. The “playoff push” we’ve heard about stalled out before it ever had a chance to start.

 

Head coach Alain Vigneault spoke of the team’s practices prior to the game and mistakes that were made by both teams, per WFAN’s Sean Hartnett. Spoiler alert: We’ve heard this before.


Rangers captain Ryan Mcdonagh believes the team tends to let their guard down in each period, resulting in poor play with-and-without the puck.

The Rangers had 25 shots on goal against Toronto, but only had five shots in the first period and seven shots in the second period. It’s bad enough that the team hasn’t been scoring goals, but if the team can’t even get shots on the net, how do they expect to win?

It’s been the same story all season. The scoring by committee plan has failed miserably. This team has no scoring leader or go-to-guy to rely on. The problems that existed in July 2017 are still problems today.

As great as Henrik Lundqvist has been, he seems to be fatigued. He has been pulled in each of the last two games that he’s started, at Anaheim on Jan. 23 and Thursday night against Toronto, giving up a combined seven goals. The Rangers went on to lose both of these games.

“The desperation needs to be there now every night,” Lundqvist told Matt Calamia of NYRangers.com. “It’s hard. You feel like you let people down when you don’t get the job done. You’re here to play for the group in here but also the fans and we want to make sure we play strong games moving forward. Personally, I have to start with myself.”

Strong words from the King, but we have heard this before. The Rangers never seem to be in sync. When the goalie stands on his head, the team can’t score a goal. When a player makes a mistake, the coach glues him to the bench for periods on end. When the team does find the back of the net, the defense turns the puck over.

In the game against the Maple Leafs, the Rangers turned the puck over 15 times. How is that possible at this stage of the season? What excuse can a team come up with for that many turnovers in one game? There is none.

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers have played 51 games this season. They have fallen from the second wild-card position last week to a tie for ninth in the conference, tied with the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that is one point out of a wild-card spot with 55 points. The Rangers, nor the head coach, has any answers.

Seems to me that the team has forgotten what an honor it is to play in the NHL, to wear the jersey every night. I’m not saying they aren’t trying every night, but as the losses build, the confidence lags. This team’s confidence is more than just shaken, it’s gone. A drastic change needs to be made now if there is any hope of making the playoffs. The time for wait and see is over, General manager Jeff Gorton needs to do what he was hired to do—make tough decisions to fix things.

The obvious move is a coaching change, but trades will still be a factor in the upcoming weeks. Regardless of what moves are made, rest assured change is coming to Madison Square Garden. Losing happens, but to lose the same way over and over? This is unacceptable to the organization, the coaches, the players and the fans.

I remind all of the great Rangers fans, who bled blue night in and night out of a quote by former Ranger and Team USA Gold Medal winning coach Herb Brooks.

We all have our favorite players, but the name on the front is the name that matters most. It’s time for the New York Rangers to find its tradition and pride.

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