Rangers Thoughts: Roster Falling Apart

Rangers are now without three forwards and two defenseman for the foreseeable future

The Rangers lost yet another game they could have won on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, losing 4-3 to the Flyers. The Rangers did earn four of a possible six points in the three games in Philadelphia and Washington, so it was a successful road trip.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Rangers.

1. It was always going to be hard for the Rangers to earn a postseason berth in the deepest division in the league with the youngest roster in the league, even if they were stay completely healthy all season. They haven’t stayed healthy, and the injuries, coupled with protocol problems and Artemi Panarin’s situation have left them with a roster that’s not going to be nearly good enough on most night. With their current roster for an extended period of time, I don’t know how they reach the playoffs.

2. Panarin won’t be with the team for what seems like indefinitely. Filip Chytil just started skating following an injury and being in protocol, Kaapko Kakko is in protocol and now K’Andre Miller is too. Jacob Trobua is out for four to six weeks with a broken thumb. The Rangers are down three top-six forwards and one-third of their expected defense. Losses shouldn’t be hard to come by with this roster.

3. That’s not to say the Rangers couldn’t have won in Philadelphia on Wednesday for their third straight win. They could have. They won in expected goals like they have more often than not this season, the problem is expected goals mean absolutely nothing. The Flyers scored four goals and Chris Kreider scored all three Rangers goals. That’s all that matters.

4. I have been hard on Kreider this season. (Actually, I have been hard on him since before he was a Ranger when the Rangers should have included him to acquire Rick Nash at the 2011-12 deadline.) But he had a hat trick on Wednesday, accouting for the Rangers’ entire offense, and now leads the Rangers with eight goals on the season. (He might want to add in a few assists along the way to bolster that 8-1-9 line.) Kreider has been part of the problem and not part of the solution in the majority of the games this season, though he hasn’t been the reason for the Rangers’ offensive shortcomings of late.

5. The amount of breakaways and odd-man rushes the Flyers had on Wednesday was astounding. The third period felt like one long power play for the Flyers as they kept crossing the Rangers’ blue line with numbers. Igor Shesterkin finally stopped a breakaway (many breakaways) and kept the Rangers in the game, and it ended up being the latest case of Blue(shirts) Balls where you think the Rangers are going to complete a comeback to at least force overtime, and they don’t.

6. Shesterkin was outstanding on odd-man rushes, so it’s hard to get on him for the goal Kevin Hayes scored, but that just can’t happen. You have to let it slide since the breakaways more than cancel out Hayes’ bad-angle shot over Shesterkin’s shoulder from the goal line, it’s just hard to stomach that goal being the eventual game-winner.

7. I was happy when the Rangers didn’t extend Hayes, happy when they moved him and happy when they didn’t re-sign him. He’s been a much better player in Philadelphia than he was in New York, however, that doesn’t change my mind on the Rangers deciding to not make him part of their future a couple of years ago.

8. I don’t know how Alexis Lafrenière only got 3:50 of ice time in the first period against the Flyers. That would be an abysmal number if the Rangers were at full strength. When you factor in that Panarin, Kakko and Chytil are all out, it would seem impossible. Lafrenière finished the game 14:56 of ice time, but that’s still 1:55 less than Colin Blackwell and 2:39 less than Kevin Rooney. Throw out positions and special teams, that just can’t happen. Otherwise, what’s the point of anything if the No. 1 overall pick isn’t allowed to impact that game more than Blackwell and Rooney, and Ryan Strome and Pavel Buchnevich for that matter.

9. I guess I will just never understand David Quinn. Well, I shouldn’t say that. Either he will change his ways and I will understand him, or he will replaced as Rangers head coach. As of now though, it looks like I will never understand him since he seems set in his inexplicable ways, and there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about it. Not even the absence of Panarin, Kakko and Chytil is enough for him to change.

10. After going 4-7-3 in the first quarter of the season, the Rangers made it so they had to win two out of every three games for the remaining 42. They have done so to begin the second quarter as they 2-1-0 after the three games in Philadelphia and Washington. Now it’s three straight at home against Boston (twice) and Buffalo before a six-game road trip to New Jersey (2), Pittsburgh (2) and Boston (2). After these next nine games, the season will be 46 percent and we’ll have a good idea of what this Rangers season is or will be.

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