Through this slow and steady New York Rangers rebuild, scoring goals may be a specific attribute that won’t be concerning.
Putting the puck in the net has never been easy for the New York Rangers. The last two seasons have proven this point as the Blueshirts have gone the route of scoring by committee, which may not be the best way to collect wins.
The Rangers tallied 228 goals in 82 regular season games last season, good enough for 22nd place (of the 31 NHL teams). An average of 2.78 goals per game scored is not going to get the team many wins in today’s NHL and represents a significant drop in ranking as opposed to the 2016-17 season in which the Rangers scored 253 goals, with 3.09 goals per game average, ranking fourth in the NHL that season.
Goal scoring is crucial for any team, but as the Rangers go forth with this rebuilding process, it is essential if they are to compete with the other teams in the upcoming season.
The next three leaders in goals scored on this team might surprise you. Jimmy Vesey had 17 goals with Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider netting 16 goals each. Zuccarello was the team’s leading point man, recording 53 points on the season.
The Rangers have already shown their commitment to this rebuilding process as they went with youth in the NHL Draft in June. Selecting Vitali Kravstov, K’Andre Miller and Nils Lundkvist was a great start. These players are the teams future, but they are not going to solve the scoring problems now.
The Rangers best chance of finding the back of the net may lie within the organization itself. The Rangers have the personnel now to jump-start the offense.
The biggest difference this year will be David Quinn.
The new head coach, demanding as most coaches are, will give the players room to make mistakes, learn and improve. No longer will a player have to continue to look over his shoulder should a bad play or pass be made. Being demoted to the fourth line, benched or sitting in the press box won’t be the punishment for a failed play on the ice.
Accountability is the coach’s strong point. Players should play more exciting hockey this season.
Along with first-round picks from last year’s draft, Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil, the Rangers still employ Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and recently signed forward Ty Ronning, currently playing for the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack, who all can absolutely lead this team. Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes, coming off a career-high in goals, are the players the Rangers can rely on to score for the Blueshirts.
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They now have the coach who will give them the confidence they have been lacking the past several seasons.
Anticipate forwards Pavel Buchnevich, Zuccarello, Jesper Fast to prove that they can score the goals the team has been looking for in past seasons. Center Mika Zibanejad should be able to continue his scoring prowess this year, possibly exceeding his 27 goals from last season. The defensemen will be able to lend an offensive hand as Kevin Shattenkirk, returning from a knee injury, and Brady Skjei will have every chance to show that they to can turn the red goal light on for New York. Neal Pionk and John Gilmour will be able to add to the offensive as they grow more into everyday players this season.
The defensemen will be able to lend an offensive hand as Kevin Shattenkirk, returning from a knee injury, and Brady Skjei will have every chance to show that they to can turn the red goal light on for New York. Neal Pionk and John Gilmour will be able to add to the offensive as they grow more into everyday players this season.
The Rangers need to improve on the power play which was effective early in the season last year before both Zibanejad and Shattenkirk went down with injuries.
The current roster may look the same as last season, but they have the players that can score goals if given the opportunity and freedom to do so on the ice.
The best move is sometimes no move at all. This team will go through its growing pains at the beginning of the year, so fans will need to be patient. The wait will be well worth it in the end.