Just thirteen games remain in the regular season and the Rangers are still struggling to find consistency. Back in January, things seemed to have finally clicked and the Rangers looked like they were headed in the right direction.
However, in the 10 games since the Olympic break, they have won four times and are averaging just 2.2 goals per game. What’s worse the power play, the team’s lone offensive strength, is clicking at just 14%.
Right now, it appears things could go either way for the Blueshirts. And despite having played 69 games, you wonder if this is all we’re going to get out of them this season, or if there’s still a late LA Kings-like surge hiding up their sleeves.
For me it comes back to the offense, particularly at even strength. The Rangers were one of the better teams in the league the past few years at 5-on-5 hockey. This season they can’t find any consistency and that’s with a more talented roster, a supposedly more offensive-minded system, and a more player friendly coaching staff.
On paper, the ingredients for more goals are there, but this team just lacks that killer instinct they had in the past. Gone are the heavy forechecks, the drives to the net, and three guys standing in the crease banging away at rebounds every night. This season we have over relied on counter rushes which look pretty, but those types of goals get harder to come by the closer you get to June.
Now this isn’t meant to point fingers at Alain Vigneault. He’s a very good coach who fits well with this roster and he has helped to maintain the team’s ability to win the puck possession game. The uneasiness I feel is more for management, who have made some big risks here the past two years and in the process took a successful team identity and self-destructed it faster than the reign of Rob Stark.
Who would have thought after coming within two games of the Stanley Cup final we would now be without Dubinsky, Callahan, Torts, Arty, Prust, etc. All collectively, were warriors in their own right and defined the brand of hockey that got us to the top of the Eastern Conference. Now they’re a memory.
Look, I get it. Hockey is a business and rosters and coaching staffs can’t stay together because of nostalgia. Nevertheless, sometimes a little continuity can go a long way, perhaps farther than a high-risk strategy.
All of this just seems to be a big gamble. Hopefully it pays off before the next reset button gets pushed.