The New York Rangers are off to a 3-7-1 start to the 2018-19 season entering play Tuesday and they only have themselves to blame.
Despite the talk of a rebuild, the New York Rangers thought they would be competitive in 2018-19. So far, that has not been the case and the reason is simple: they are simply stabbing themselves in the foot.
The fact of the matter is that New York probably could have a few more wins under their belt. Five of their eight total losses (including the lone overtime loss) occurred in games that were all winnable. Games you walk away from and say, “How on earth did they lose that one?”
Some of the blame is to fall on the first-year head coach David Quinn, but there is also blame to go around to certain players on the roster. Regardless, things have not been smooth, and as much as you want to say we should have expected nothing less it still comes as a surprise considering who is on this roster.
Let’s take this on a game by game basis to see where things went wrong in those five games, where things fell apart and whether or not they can be fixed early on in the season.
10/4 vs. Predators
Opening night brought the Rangers a glimpse into how this season was going to unfold early on.
The Blueshirts went toe for toe with the defending President Trophy winners entering the third period tied at one. After allowing a goal from P.K. Subban early in the period the Rangers had a comeback to work on.
It did not seem like the comeback was going to be impossible, the Blueshirts were putting plenty of pressure on Pekka Rinne, who stood bent but did not break. Then the whistle blew and it looked like the Rangers were going to be given an opportunity on the power play to tie this thing up, so we thought. It turned out the Blueshirts were called for having too many men on the ice to go along with the Nashville penalty and the two teams would skate four on four. Nashville would add the empty netter, followed suit by a Pavel Buchnevich goal and the Blueshirts would lose 3-2.
You do not always like to play the what if game when it comes to analyzing sports, but when you look at this first game, it is hard not to. If the Rangers do not take that penalty, Nashville probably does not get the empty netter as early as they did. Instead, the Rangers would have had a six on four power play with a better chance of forcing overtime.
10/6 @ Sabres
This might game might be the one game the Rangers look back on in October and ask how they let this one get away. New York outshot Buffalo 44-29 but fell victim to penalty trouble and great goaltending from Carter Hutton.
The two goals Henrik Lundqvist allowed came as a direct result of the Rangers giving Buffalo way too many opportunities on the power play. On Buffalo’s first goal, they took advantage of the Rangers deploying three players on the puck shorthanded leading to a two-on-one and an early lead.
Buffalo’s third goal came also on the power play, and nothing changed from the first goal. Just like Sheary’s first of the night, too many Rangers went towards the puck allowing Sam Reinhart to find Sheary for the easy tap-in.
Take away the penalties and this game has a completely different outcome. But, the penalties were the story of the game and a good offensive team like Buffalo took full advantage of the Rangers putting themselves in poor positions to try and win a game.
10/25 @ Blackhawks
This was one of the more frustrating games of the season for the Rangers considering they were in this one right until the start of the third period.
Prior to that dreadful period starting, the only blemish from New York came in the second when they let Nick Schmaltz go right around their defense. Schmaltz just picked apart the Rangers defense, making the Blueshirts look like the young team they are, finding teammate Alexandre Fortin for the easy tap-in.
It all fell apart there for New York, who came out in the third and was outshot 14-1 despite being down just one goal. Chicago just came out and dominated and the Rangers let them do just that. It almost looked like Chicago was the team in desperate need of a win. That they were trying to prove themselves to everyone in the league that they belonged.
A 2-1 deficit ended up being a 4-1 loss for the Rangers after they battled for two periods. It was the first time this season where they did not compete for 60 minutes, and it hurt them big time.
10/28 @ Kings
This game falls under the inexcusable category for any team.
The Rangers were up 2-0 headed to the second period and ended up trailing 3-2 at the midway point of the third period. They simply let up and allowed the Kings to get back in the game with two straight power play goals.
But that was not even what made this loss inexcusable, as a matter of fact, the Blueshirts ended up tying things up late in the third. This time they let Alec Martinez skate from his end of the ice, through the neutral zone and into the Rangers zone untouched. That’s right, untouched. Martinez took a simple wrist shot and the Kings would go onto win 4-3.
Yes, Lundqvist needs to make that save, but there comes a point when you can no longer let the opposition have their way with you in the neutral zone. Plays like this just make you scratch your head, especially when you look at who was on the ice for the Blueshirts. Quinn had Ryan Spooner, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Brendan Smith out there as Martinez skated right past all of them. That is an effort that cannot be accepted, an effort that needs to be corrected especially considering these are the veterans leading the way for the younger players.
From this count alone, there are four losses that they could have easily won for the New York Rangers. Games where they let the opposition right back in it or failed to step on the gas with a lead. Bad habits, like too many men on the ice penalties, are starting to carry over from poor losses.
It is on the Quinn and the team themselves to get this fixed, otherwise, this year might be much more painful than some thought it would be.