David Quinn
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

New York Rangers head coach David Quinn has been heavily criticized in 2019-20, but his team has yet to quit on him. 

Dom Renna

It’s no secret the New York Rangers have yet to find consistency in 2019-20.

After two thrilling wins to start the year, New York fell back to reality, resulting in plenty of questions concerning head coach David Quinn’s personnel usage. While most of the criticism around Quinn was legitimate, it was still way too early to make any rash decisions about his future.

In year two of a rebuild, Quinn has been dealt a hand of aces to play with while trying to balance that hand for success today and in the future.

The club acquired Jacob Trouba, the second overall pick in the draft (Kaapo Kakko) and signed the best free agent available, Artemi Panarin. They also had to remind themselves what exactly the expectations were for this team entering the year: continuing to build on what they’ve already done the last two years.

That meant sending Filip Chytil to Hartford to start the year, it meant playing Brendan Smith as a winger on the third line. Also, Jesper Fast has been moved to the top line, while Kakko is now skating in the bottom-six, a thought most fans would have dreaded to hear at the beginning of the year.

While none of those situations would have been considered ideal before the year began, the Rangers, as a team and as individuals, have rallied behind Quinn, showing how his message has yet to go stale.

It really all does start with the Chytil demotion back in October. The hope was for Chytil to emerge as the Blueshirts’ No. 2 center this year, but his play in the preseason dictated Chytil needed more seasoning down in Hartford despite playing all of last year in the NHL.

The Chytil situation was not ideal, but it was handled properly by Quinn, along with the rest of the organization; and now, Chytil finds himself back in the NHL, producing in a big way.

Chtyil is just one of the many examples of this club rallying behind Quinn. Take young Kakko for example.

Kakko was not playing to the standards he set for himself along with what we’ve seen him do in the short time he’s been a Ranger. So Quinn decided to make an adjustment and move him from the top-six forward group. The move allowed him to play against lesser players and help boost his confidence.

After being removed from the top-six, a young player who has seen a great deal of success like Kakko has already, could have easily given up. Instead, Kakko goes out there scores a goal and plays his best game of the year followed up by another really solid one vs. Nashville Saturday.

While these are two individual examples, it would be hard not to look at where this team stands a week after the debacle against the Boston Bruins.

After that contest, Quinn called his team out telling USA Today’s Vince Mercogliano, “Skill certainly is a huge component of this game, but if you have no battle in you, I don’t care how skilled you are – you’re not going to be productive. This game is all about what can you do when someone’s trying to stop you from doing it.”

The next few days, Quinn and his staff echoed those thoughts in practice, along with some adjustments, and it translated into the Rangers’ best game of 2019-20, the Tampa Bay Lightning victory. Those adjustments included the addition of Chytil, along with sitting veteran Marc Staal for the young Ryan Lindgren, something no-one thought they would see this year.

Now, New York could have easily folded and follow its effort vs. Tampa with a stinker against Nashville on Saturday; but instead, they carried over all of the good they saw in that 4-1 win and won a tough game on the road, 2-1, to keep the momentum alive.

If this week has shown us anything, it’s that this season is going to be full of highs and lows coupled with plenty of growing pains. It also taught us that the Rangers are still responding to David Quinn, and as long as that continues, don’t expect moves anytime soon.

Kaapo Kakko, RoboKaapo T-Shirt

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