New York Rangers, David Quinn
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

New York Rangers head coach David Quinn has been able to push the right buttons this season, but recently the team has struggled.

Frank Curto

The New York Rangers are not the only ones struggling the last few weeks. Rookie head coach David Quinn has started to show some growing pains as he continues to make the transition to the NHL.

Yes, they had a very good win against Nashville last week, but their game in St. Louis on Monday was a win everybody, including the coach, knew should have been a loss.

Then enter Wednesday’s contest, a cruel reality check, as they dropped it by the final of 7-2. The team seemed a step behind from the opening face-off. The wheels totally fell off in the second period as they gave up four goals. In the end, Hank was pulled after giving up six goals as memories of a failed second half last year resurfaced.

Give David Quinn credit. He has tried many different combinations to get the Rangers to play more consistent hockey. Some examples of his attempts have been the benching of many players, but in a learning, instructive way, unlike his predecessor Alain Vigneault. Every defenseman on the team has watched from the press box one time or another with the exception of defenseman Marc Staal.

On Monday, the coaching staff sat Filip Chytil for the first time in his young NHL career. This was done not as a punishment but as a tool Quinn believes will help the young Czech gain knowledge from.

“It was an easy decision, really,’’ Quinn said to Colin Stephensen of Newsday. “Part of development isn’t just throwing people out there and letting them play. Part of development is learning accountability and learning that certain things are just non-negotiable, and he and I have talked about that. He’s let a few things slip in his game that just can’t happen. And sometimes it’s good to sit out and observe.”

The plan was to sit Chytil longer than one game, but Quinn mentioned following the morning skate on Wednesday that he was unhappy with several players performance. Therefore, he reinserted Chytil and sat Jimmy Vesey on Wednesday night. The coaching staff also sat Anthony DeAngelo and went with Fredrik Claesson against the Pens.

New York Rangers

The coach’s style is new and different from what has been seen in the league in year’s past. The real story is how the players have responded.

The Changes Could Hinder More Than Help

The Rangers seem to be missing the key part to getting them the chemistry they are desperately searching for. Will the constant changing of personnel on the lineup backfire on the coach?

It very well could.

Communication is great and goes a long way in realizing what a player may be doing incorrectly. It is crucial that this doesn’t turn into a situation where players are more worried about making mistakes than playing the game. This is a young team as everyone has written multiple times, but they know how to play hockey. The team needs to play a simpler game in order to learn what the coaching staff is asking of them.

Unfortunately, simple, crisp hockey hs not been a strong point for the team. In the loss to Pittsburgh Wednesday, the defense struggled again. Plenty of turnovers standing around and watching instead of getting involved in the play coast the Blueshirts against a faster more skilled Penguins team.

The team has not had many poor games this season but recently these kinds of games have appeared. The team needs to find the style of hockey they played in November where they were scoring plenty of goals and making strong decisions with and without the puck.

Few scoring opportunities with another terrible power play added to the dismal play of the team the past few games.

The Coach Does Take Responsibility

There are plenty of positives to look at. It begins with the same man who is struggling at times behind the bench. He, too, is in his rookie year and mistakes will be made.

Case in point was his post-game press conference on Wednesday. In discussing the game he took the blame for the bad result Henrik Lundqvist had saying per the Rangers Twitter account:

It’s all on me”, Quinn wen ton to say, “He never should have played, a huge mistake on my part putting him in that position.”

The organization will continue to remain vigilant with this season. Yes, they are still in the playoff hunt,. Yes, they can still win plenty of hockey games. The fact of the matter is this team is not Stanley Cup Playoff-ready even if they found themselves in a wild card spot come April.

Like they say in most sports, any team can win on any given night. But can that same team win a seven-game playoff round? Maybe, but that’s a tough thing to ask of this club right now.

Quinn will keep the team focused as he continues to find the lineup that gets the job done. Until then he will continue to shuffle players in and out of the lineup hoping the one shuffle will kick things into high gear as it did a few months ago where the Blueshirts went on a 9-1-1 run.

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