The New York Rangers failures, losing six of their last seven games, fall directly on the shoulders of head coach David Quinn.
The losses have revealed major flaws in the New York Rangers game. Following Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Boston Bruins, head coach David Quinn didn’t hold back while discussing what’s problematic up and down the lineup.
“I think part of being a professional athlete is handling adversity and understanding consistent battle level gives you a chance to have success,” Quinn said. “And I just think we have guys that don’t fully understand that,” via Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post.
He continued his harsh but accurate breakdown of the club’s effort.
“They think the game should be played a different way, and it should be a skill game,” Quinn said. “Skill certainly is a huge component of this game, but if you have no battle, I don’t care how skilled you are, you’re not going to be productive.”
The Rangers’ second-year coach feels the team is not playing the in-your-face, hard-nosed hockey needed to win in today’s NHL. The comments come following a contest in which the team was dominated by a Boston Bruin team that punished the Blueshirts not only on the scoreboard, but most notably on the ice. The Bruins physically beat up the Rangers every chance they had.
The season has not started the way the team and coaching staff had anticipated. The news has become worse when the team was forced to handle the bad public relations stir that was created when Vitali Kravtsov invoked his European Clause, and will now return to Russia to play in the KHL.
Before the start of Sunday’s game, the Rangers announced that wingers Jesper Fast would not be available to play due to “personal reasons.” Yet, somehow the Rangers took a 1-0 lead into the second period. Unfortunately, things would only get worse as the team’s compete level was challenged with failing results.
The second period saw the Bruins run over the Blueshirts, scoring two times in the first two minutes of the period. Henrik Lundqvist was run over by Bruins David Pastrnak that resulted from a collision with Rangers defenseman Libor Hajek. The referees determined that here was no goalie interference and the goal stood.
Not a single player on the ice stood up for Lundqvist.
Lundqvist, who was pulled for Alexandar Georgiev who was inserted to start the third period, also voiced his displeasure with the team’s overall play.
“We need to understand how hard you have to play every night,” said Lundqvist. “It’s just not going to be enough. Some of it might be confidence, but we have to play very simply, very hard. It comes down to battles. That’s how you win in this league, and I felt like in the second period, they did whatever they wanted to do,” via Vince Z. Marcogliano of lohud.com.
Lundqvist also missed practice on Monday, and though he was listed as day-to-day, he shouldn’t miss his next expected start.
Quinn seems to think that he has recognized the problem. Could it be that Quinn himself is causing some of the confidence issues the team has been speaking about?
Quinn is one of the main culprits via team confidence. He continues to shuffles lines at his discretion. This is his right, but at some point, he has to let the lines play together in order to see what really works.
He chooses to play Brendan Smith at forward, which is limiting the team’s offensive diversity. On Sunday night, Smith, along with Micheal Haley and Greg McKegg, were all in the lineup for the game. Granted, the Fast issue added to the dilemma, but this was not a line that can succeed in today’s fast-paced NHL climate.
Prior to the Fast announcement, Quinn was changing the lines again, despite getting a win in their last game against the Buffalo Sabres. There were mistakes made in that game too, but the team worked hard, scoring six goals along the way.
It appears, at times, the team is not hearing Quinn, as what appeared to be the case when he called a timeout in the second period of Sunday’s game. The head coach was giving the team a deserving tongue lashing, but it seemed some of the players were not understanding or listening to what the coach was saying.
Quinn has looked lost at what to do at times during the early part of this season. It appears he doesn’t have any answer to the questions the teams are looking for. Changing line combinations is the easiest way to address issues, but that sometimes won’t address the problems at hand.
It is too early to believe that Quinn is losing the locker room, but he is going to have to find a way to get his voice across the different age groups of this club if they want to get back to competing in games.
With only three wins this season, things are getting worse, and the head coach is going to have to regroup and find a way to have the players hear his message.
Quinn was hired for his teachable ways with the younger players and a cohesiveness to work with the veterans. Where has this education gone? Could it be that Quinn is suffering for the dreaded sophomore jinx that many players go through?
Quinn needs to relay on the people around him to help him figure out how to get through to the players. Recognizing the problems is just the first part of improving. The coaching staff needs to find a way to get the team back on the same page before everyone starts talking about next season.
It’ll certainly be a tough task to accomplish if Zibanejad is lost for a long period of time and the team’s most reliable player, Fast, misses games with no return scheduled as of Monday afternoon.