The New York Rangers are a good hockey team. Their top 14 forwards as a unit are some of the best in the league. They have skill, speed, and most importantly, depth. They have one of the best goaltenders in the world. But as we’ve all seen, the Rangers are deeply flawed on the blue line.
Flawed teams are generally inconsistent. I say generally because the size and type of flaw matters here. A flawed fourth line, for example, isn’t as big of an issue as a flawed blue line. It’s tough to hide three or four bad defensemen. With that flaw, and the division the Rangers play in, we are going to get what we’ve been getting. Some bad losses, some great wins, and some in between.
This isn’t an indictment of any one player, coach, or front office staff member. This is an objective evaluation of the team. Even when the Rangers were steamrolling opponents early in the season, they had key losses to Pittsburgh and Columbus. They had bad losses to Vancouver, Florida and Ottawa. They also had big wins over Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and San Jose. Consistently inconsistent.
That is going to be the story for the Rangers going forward until big changes are made. The status quo is what we see before us: Big time offense, awful defense, and goaltending getting hung out to dry. This is the new norm for the Rangers.
The good news is that it can be fixed. The bad news is that it takes recognition of the problem and some major changes. As it stands today, the Rangers likely won’t be able to compete with Pittsburgh, Columbus, or Washington in a seven game series. Henrik Lundqvist and the forwards can win them a seven game series against any of the Atlantic teams though, so that’s a good thing.
The Rangers are far from the only flawed team headed to the playoffs this year, but their flaws are in some of their big minute players. Unless major changes are made, this season is going to be a roller coaster ride. May as well strap in and enjoy it.