How to Lose Games and Alienate Fans

The Rangers are bad. They’re also bad at being bad too though, which presents a particular problem, because we’re knee-deep in a rebuild and judging by the mood around Rangerstown, most people are not having a good time. Although certainly it would not be fun if they lost, let’s say, 3/4s of their remaining games and rocketed up the draft lottery rankings, it would be much less fun if they didn’t, and instead hovered just out of playoff position but more-or-less at .500 for the next decade plus. We’ve got some good players to build around, a GM smart enough (I think, and let’s hope) to make the right trades, and New York City remains an attractive destination for free agents.

What’s apparent, as has been belabored by people across the ideological spectrum, and something I’ll concede with certain caveats, is that in order to really be a contender we need an elite, all-league talent (my thing is that the Rangers were never lacking in that talent over the Henrik Lundqvist years, that it doesn’t need to be a skater, and that sometimes you just never make it over the hump, or sometimes you do but it takes a while). Someone like Jack Hughes would certainly fit the bill, except we’re in a bit of a pickle there.

Because here are some facts:

  • The Rangers are slated to pick 10th in the upcoming NHL draft, with an 11.4% chance at a top-3 pick (Kaapo Kakko will do, I guess) and a 3.5% chance at the 1OA.
  • The Rangers sit 22nd in the league right now with 41 points, ahead of Florida, New Jersey, Detroit, Arizona, Chicago, St Louis, Philadelphia, Ottawa, and Los Angeles, the latter three teams all at 35 points (Ottawa, it’s important to remember, won’t be picking that high anyways though, because they for whatever reason traded that pick to Colorado, which is weird and awful at the same time).
  • As far as points percentage goes, we’re at .513 right now, with LA being dead last at .417 (for more on this head on over to Banter, where you can see my ridiculous breakdown of the standings and how bad it has to get potentially). Lastly, looking at the fancy stats, we’ve thankfully got the second-worst team CF% in the league, but unfortunately only the ninth-worst xGF%, which is to say that we’re only giving up quantity, not quality. If we want to drop some points we’re going to have to go for both. So to basically hammer it home, we’re bad, but other teams are worse, and that’s a problem.

You might find yourself asking how we get worse, and that’s where the Rangers need to get shifty. Those teams that are still worse than us? Well, we’ve got to start Georgiev against them, and even then that’s only 11 out of our remaining games. That means he’d have to lose every single one of them to gain a broad net advantage over those teams. We’d still have some work to do, not to mention how totally demoralizing that would be for a young goalie, and just the sheer improbability of that actually going down.

Carolina, Edmonton, and Minnesota all have 41 points in the standings as well, and we play those teams a total of 6 times in our remaining schedule, so let’s start Georgiev for those ones too to prevent Hank from stealing games and having those teams jump our Blueshirts in the standings as well. Vancouver and Anaheim could also be threats too, sitting just beyond those three teams with 44 and 45 points respectively. Beyond that, we’re also playing plenty of teams that are actually good, so losing those games would be advantageous as well. Pulling off upsets would be great, but the most important aspect, in my humble opinion, is getting a top draft pick.

What about the actual game itself, aside from the starting netminder? There’s two strategic postures here that compliment each other fairly well actually, both of which would benefit the team in the short and long term. The first one is playing the kids, even and especially if they’re struggling. That means Howden and Andersson both need significant minutes with good linemates to improve their games, despite their bad relative xGF%s and relative CF%s (Chytil is doing really well, to no one’s surprise). It’s incumbent upon Gorton and Quinn to make sure these guys develop as well as possible, and although there’s a certain difficulty in playing big minutes and constantly losing, that’s sort of the corner we’ve painted ourselves into. That’d be on the coach, GM, and support staff to keep spirits high, but the actual practicality of playing these kids in the hopes of that they’ll grow but also not hit 30 goals (looking at you, Christopher James Kreider).

The next big tactical shift the coaching staff could make also involves playing veteran guys who are struggling, because primarily it would help us lose games, but it would also help showcase them for potential trades. That can surely backfire if they suddenly get out of their respective funks, but you’re sure to get enough decent plays to reference in trade negotiations, and given the game of guys like Mats Zuccarello, Brendan Smith, or even Jimmy Vesey (all have negative rel xGF%s, which is the really big way to plummet and something the Rangers need more of) it’ll be enough to make the team worse while making our trade chips look better.

There is of course a weird contradiction here, but my bet is these guys would play poorly, look good enough to be appealing on the trade market, and still help us lose if we gave them even bigger minutes. Everybody knows Hayes and Kreider are having massive years, but we need other guys to at the very least look good even if they’re playing badly. This is perhaps the weirdest and trickiest move to pull off correctly, but if Quinn is astute in the way he deploys his players, it could pay off.

Look, one way or another it’s going to be tough. We need to drop a literal ton of points (ok, maybe not a literal ton) in order to get high up enough in the draft to nab a true bluechip prospect who could end this rebuild sooner rather than later, because again, if you think this season is crappy imagine doing it for a decade like the Carolina Hurricanes have been. Let’s rip off the bandaid, really play like garbage for a year, and then turn things around ASAP.

That’s going to mean Georgiev getting hung out to dry, that’s going to mean players underperforming getting big minutes, whether they be developmental or with the purpose of facilitating trades, and that’s going to mean yes, low morale. But low morale that sets in over a long period of time is much tougher to combat than 41 games’ worth of absolute garbage, and that’s something we all need to recognize. I’ve written before about how it’s weird being in a rebuild because you always want your team to win, but as of right now we’ve had our fun. It’s time to floor it on the tank.

"How to Lose Games and Alienate Fans", 3 out of 5 based on 17 ratings.

15 thoughts on “How to Lose Games and Alienate Fans

  • Jan 6, 2019 at 12:23 pm
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    The real rub here is that this is exactly what die hard NYR fans want. The NYR coaching staff and players, however, believe that it is their job to win as many games as possible. What happens from here on will be squarely on Jeff Gorton’s shoulders. Here’s to hoping he has a solid plan.

    • Jan 6, 2019 at 1:27 pm
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      EXACTLY. Quinn is going to try to win with whoever is in the room. Its up to management to determine the direction of who should be in the room. And right now there is no direction or more of the same old.

  • Jan 6, 2019 at 12:28 pm
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    Rebuilds are never pretty. The process should be about pulling the weeds and keeping the flowers and building a solid core of players. Where the Rangers end up in the standings should be subordinate. BTw if the choice comes down to Hughes or Kakko my vote is to pick Kakko hands down.

    • Jan 6, 2019 at 2:10 pm
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      Bloomer

      Having watched the game last night, and seeing Kakko score the winner for Finland, I have to agree with you.

      As for the dive to the bottom, I have no problem if we stand a shot at these two players!!!!!!!!

      • Jan 6, 2019 at 2:33 pm
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        Those two wins the other week would have us sitting prettier if they were losses. I have my positives though ,good pain meds to get me by the last game and few more that are coming! Technology is amazing these days. Under the knife first thing Friday morning ( hip ) up walking at around 11:30 am driving home ( from South Carolina) yesterday morning! Now I can sit drop a few oxy’s , ice up and chill!

        • Jan 6, 2019 at 3:50 pm
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          All the best Sieve I had my hip replaced a few years back and live an active pain free life .

          • Jan 6, 2019 at 4:29 pm
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            Stay healthy my friend.

        • Jan 6, 2019 at 5:02 pm
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          Get well quickly!!!!!

          • Jan 6, 2019 at 5:23 pm
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            Good stuff … probably waited 2 years to long. Went the hip resurfacing route ( still a hip replacement but no taking the top of the femur off ) … number 2 in 2.5 months.

          • Jan 6, 2019 at 7:07 pm
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            Thanks all, for the well wishes! So far pretty good.

  • Jan 6, 2019 at 1:01 pm
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    The next 15 games will change the landscape in comparison to where they are now. I think that the next 9 out of 11 games are on the road. It will take care of itself.

    What alienates the fans is a lack of direction or commitment.

    • Jan 6, 2019 at 1:39 pm
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      Sorry, 9 out of 15, not 11.

    • Jan 8, 2019 at 10:15 am
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      Lots of confusion yes amongst the leadership, but I have to give this thing of ours time……I can’t believe some Ranger fans are calling for the head of Quinn….Pretty damn ridiculous if you ask me..

  • Jan 6, 2019 at 5:45 pm
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    Let’s also put this all in perspective. The NYR are only 6 points from the bottom (although they have played less games than most of those below them).

    There is still a lot shaking out to be done

    Pat – your analysis provides solid reasoning of why renlentless pursuit of the Sens #1 is a critical strategy for turning things around.

    I know it will not be easy and a lot depends on how the Avs fare between now and the deadline.

    But hey – at least “I” have a plan….

  • Jan 7, 2019 at 9:45 am
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    People forget that we were not expected to be this high in the standings at the beginning of the year. Putting in Georgie so we can lose? I don’t know about you but I’m a Ranger fan and Georgie is a Ranger – I would like to build him too and if we win games with him I’d be ecstatic. A good young man as a possible future so why knock him. The team has been practicing a lot even on off days, this was planned form the start and they even predicted throughout the season that the wheels would start falling, I guess this is the time. Hard work is going on in Hartford with a lot of the youngsters including Gilmour, Lias, Holland, etc. doing some good work – they’re doing better this year – the parent club will be build as well. Personally, I believe in Quinn, they will get better and they will find a way – it takes growling pains and Hank knows this too but when you start surprising people at the beginning you expect it to carry, not so, and then frustration comes….tons of breakdowns on the defensive, neutral zone and offensive ends – plus they had no legs, no energy vs. the ‘Yotes. Changes are def coming but only those that will affect the future, not the present year like some want, they are not there yet and we were warned of the blueprint as far back as August. Sometimes they’ll play hard and tenacious, and other times it feels like they quit playing for the coach, each other, the fans, etc..I know, I’ve seen this before with pre-Cup winning teams (see Chicago, Pittsburgh pre-Cup years). It’s a process.

    On the 2019 draft, look, this is one heckuva rich draft, there are tons of good players in the first 2 rounds – tons. Hughes may stand apart a bit, but after that, you can still roll the dice…it’s that good. Prospects acquired in trades would be a very good idea, but so would late first or early 2 nds and teams know this. Go Rangers, a lot of good things have been done throughout the season and this is just part of the ……process. Happy New Years to everyone here – finally back from a tour!:)

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