I have never thought anyone other than David Quinn would be the Rangers’ head coach to begin the 2021-22 season. Even if the Rangers were a last-place team this season, there would be too many excuses available as to why the team was keeping Quinn. There was no training camp. There were no exhibition games. The season started in January. There were only 56 games. The Rangers have the youngest roster in the league. This was always supposed to be the last rebuilding year. There would be an abundance of options for the Rangers to use to protect Quinn. But not if the Rangers play like this.
Being a last-place team with the youngest roster in the league is one thing. Losing the way the Rangers have through the first month of this season is a whole different thing. After losing four consecutive games over the first and second week of the season, the Rangers are currently in their second four-game losing streak of the season. Yes, two separate four-game losing streaks in a season that is 34 days and 14 games old.
The Rangers have lost 10 of their 14 games this season. They have been shut out and blown out, they have pissed away one- and two-goal leads, many of which were in the third period. They have lost in overtime a couple times and in a shootout once. They have lost every way imaginable in less than five weeks, but none of their previous nine losses were as bad as their loss on Tuesday to the Devils at the Garden.
The Devils hadn’t played a game since Jan. 31. They had practiced once since then. They should have been trying to get their legs and knocking off the rust of playing in an actual game, or playing period. Instead, they gave it to the Rangers from the opening puck drop and never let up. Anyone unaware of the Devils’ recent situation would have thought it was the Rangers who hadn’t played at all in February. The difference in plays from the two teams was that apparent.
Rather than take advantage of a Devils team that was essentially restarting their season, the Rangers failed to score in the first period, eventually losing 5-2. Over their last four games, they have scored four goals. The goal scorers: Julien Gauthier, Kevin Rooney and Colin Blackwell and Pavel Buchnevich. One goal from the top two lines.
Yes, the players deserve a lot of the blame for the current 4-7-3 record. Mika Zibanejad has one goal. Chris Kreider has five points. Kaapo Kakko has two goals. Alexis Lafrenière has as many goals (1) as Gauthier who has played in five fewer games and has only played fourth-line minutes in his nine games.
The production hasn’t been there from the names that are supposed to be producing. But a good part of the blame for that falls on Quinn, who frantically changes his lines from shift to shift, seems to not want to properly utilize the 2019 No. 2 overall pick and the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, and seemingly gives out ice time based on seniority rather than talent, skill or ability.
After the loss, a mopey Quinn navigated his way through his postgame press conference with a lost, dejected and at times cocky demeanor. None of his answers gave any insight into how he plans to turn the season around for the second time in a month, and if anything, he made Rangers fans less confident than they already feel that he’s the right man to make the team a contender in the near future.
I decided to analyze Quinn’s postgame press conference answers the way I did after the team’s previous fourth straight loss at the end of January.
On if the loss was an opportunity wasted.
“Any time you play in the NHL you have an opportunity to get two points, regardless of who you are playing and we let another opportunity slip from our hands to get two points. Give them a lot of credit, they played well.”
What insight from Quinn. Thank you for sharing with everyone the objective of the NHL and the goal for every team in every game. At least we now all know he knows how the standings work.
On if effort was an issue in the loss.
That’s it. That was his answer. One word. “Effort” is always attached to the coaching staff, and mainly the head coach. So Quinn is implicating the job he has done by admitting to the team lacking the effort needed to beat a team playing a game for the first time in 17 days. You would think if you were admitting to the public that you failed at your job, you would want to give a reason or at least make up some excuse or place the blame elsewhere, but not Quinn. A one-word response was all he needed.
On if the loss was harder because of everything New Jersey has gone through.
“I’m not paying attention to the opponent when we are evaluating our team. I’m just disappointed in some of the things that went on from our end tonight, a drop-off in a lot of areas. Just not good enough.”
If Quinn thinks anyone believes he didn’t know of the Devils’ lack of play in February then he’s more than lost than I originally thought. It would also mean he isn’t aware of the ongoing pandemic or isn’t in tune with the league’s protocols or why he has to wear a mask everywhere he goes (accept when he talks to his players on the bench because he clearly thinks the mask is a fashion accessory and not to keep him and his players safe when’s talking to them).
On how the effort issue be addressed.
“It will be addressed at practice and before practice and after practice and before we play Philly.“
I think Quinn is trying to say he’s going to bag skate the Rangers on Wednesday? That makes a lot of sense because that’s what this team needs: unnecessary, time-wasting sprints. They don’t need to create stable, successful line combinations or work on creating usable power-play units. No, they need to sprint to pay for the loss to the Devils.
It would be a lot easier to back Quinn and believe in him if he gave a reason to. If he were playing Lafrenière the way a No. 1 overall pick should playing or Kakko the way a No. 2 overall pick should be playing, or keeping his line combinations together for more than a few shifts each game, and putting the most talented offensive players on the first power play, and the team was still losing games, then so be it. That could be considered a young, inexperienced team figuring it out. But what’s been going on can’t be considered that. Not when Quinn is clearly trying to win by doing what he thinks will work and it isn’t working. All that shows is that he doesn’t know how to actually win. He’s seems to know how to bench players and hand out healthy scratches as punishment to prove a point. When it comes to actually winning games consistently with a roster that should be winning games consistently, he has yet to prove he knows how to do that.
If this keeps up, the job I thought would be Quinn’s in 2021-22 no matter what won’t be. If this keeps up, his job for the rest of 2021 might not be his either.
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