The Rangers had leads in both games in Pittsburgh and they lost both games. They blew a two-goal lead on Thursday and two one-goal leads on Sunday. With three straight losses and one win in five games, the Rangers are in trouble not even two weeks into the season.
Here are 10 thoughts on the Rangers.
1. In a week, we might know if the Rangers will have a season. They have currently lost three straight and four of five and are now headed to Buffalo for two games followed by two against the Penguins at the Garden. At the end of next Monday’s game against the Penguins, the Rangers will have played nine games, or 16 percent of their season.
2. Maybe the front office isn’t evaluating David Quinn and his team on wins and losses this season, in what should be the last rebuilding season for this roster. Maybe it’s still only about experience and development for the youngest team in the league. A bad week against the Sabres and Penguins and gaining experience and developing will be all the Rangers have to play for this season.
3. That’s not an exaggeration. I wrote (blogs) and spoke (on the podcast) at length before the season and in the first week of it about the importance of every single game, and continuously brought up the magic number of 1.2, which is the amount of points per game the Rangers need to reach the playoffs. Through five games, they have 3, when they need to have 6. They are in last place in the East and tied with Ottawa for the worst win percentage (.300) in the NHL.
4. Joe Micheletti continues to praise the Rangers in each broadcast about how good they look. Looking good while losing is still losing, and the Rangers have done that in all but one game. Outshooting the Devils 50-28 is nice, but shots don’t determine points in the standings. The youngest team in the league having leads in both games in Pittsburgh against a team in a Penguins team in a win-now window is nice, but blowing the lead in both games and losing both games isn’t impressive.
5. Micheletti would be better off saying “some Rangers have looked good” because that’s more accurate.
Here are the Rangers who have looked good this season:
Phil Di Giuseppe
6. That’s it. Mika Zibanejad has one goal. Alexis Lafreniere doesn’t have a point in what has to be the longest pointless streak at any level for the No. 1 pick. Jack Johnson … why even bother. Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren have been inconsistent. Tony DeAngelo has been awful. Chris Kreider hasn’t been good and neither has Ryan Strome. Igor Shesterkin is giving up goals from the half-wall and hasn’t won a game, and Alexandar Georgiev erased his shutout with a disaster against the Devils. The fourth line hasn’t necessarily been bad, but they also haven’t done anything special, unless you count Colin Blackwell accidentally scoring.
7. I guess the one thing you could say is the Rangers could have won every game except their opening night embarrassment despite all of the issues and underachievers on the roster. Unfortunately, that’s not going to put four games back on the schedule and make it easier for the Rangers to reach the postseason.
8. The David Quinn Fan Club is dwindling by the day. It’s either this year or next year when results will matter to the front office, and if it’s this year, Quinn better figure it out and fast. I do believe the 2021-22 season will be when Quinn is finally evaluated on the team’s success in the standings, so he has 51 games (and possibly some playoff games) to learn how to win at the NHL level.
9. Here’s some advice for Quinn: Stop waiting until you desperately need a goal until you pair Panarin and Zibanejad; Stop playing Strome on PP1; Don’t play Johnson, but if you need to in the event of an emergency, never pair him with DeAngelo; Give Lafreniere as much ice time as possible, and Kakko too. These are all very simple things that could instantly begin to translate into wins, yet Quinn continues to make winning even harder than it already is.
10. At 1-3-1, the Rangers have 3 points and will need about 64 points over the next 51 games to make the playoffs. That’s now 1.26 points per game, up 0.06 from the start of the season. They will need to go something like 30-17-4 the rest of the way to reach the postseason. It’s still doable, but they can’t continue to stack losses or it will be impossible be a Top 4 team in the East. The all-division schedule won’t allow for the Rangers to go on the kind of run they want on in January, February and early March of last year. These next four games could be the season.
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