The sneaky-bad start to Kevin Klein’s season
In case you missed it, the Rangers are off to a pretty solid start. While the team sure is fun to watch, the pace of play and success might not be sustainable. Most of that is due to the massive upgrade needed on defense.
Folks immediately point to Dan Girardi and Marc Staal because of their contracts, or Nick Holden because of his early gaffes. But Kevin Klein has been under-the-radar bad to start the season, and it’s one of the main reasons why the Rangers are struggling in the overall shot-attempt battle (CF%), and why detractors are saying their fall is coming fast.
Klein has never been a noted goal scorer or point getting, so his three points (no goals) isn’t overly surprising. On the ice, we’ve seen his skating starting to get exploited, and he’s been a little slow in his coverages and assignments. Like most of the defensemen on the Rangers, he’s also struggled with passing and zone exits.
His stats are pretty concerning as well. He’s sporting a 45.8% CF. That is 182nd out of 205 defensemen that have played 50 minutes thus far. Only Girardi has a worse CF% on the Rangers, which is expected. However Klein was being counted on to help stabilize the right side of the defense, and thus far he has not been successful.
More than a few people have been wondering when the other shoe would drop with Klein. After putting up back-to-back seasons of 9-17-26 (yes, he actually had identical stat lines both years), which set new career highs, Klein has seen that other shoe drop. Never known for scoring, that little blip on the radar was a welcome surprise.
Now that the scoring has dropped off, Klein’s weaknesses –footwork, moving the puck– that had been masked are showing up more clearly. It’s been just 16 games, but the soon-to-be 32 year old defenseman is on the wrong side of the age bracket in a league that is getting faster by the shift. Hopefully a turn around is coming, but Klein’s play has been a clear drop-off thus far.