Musings

It was only one game

It’s amazing what happens when the Rangers look bad after one game. Not just bad, but like the stuff your neighbor’s dog leaves on your lawn bad. There was not one bright spot in the game against the Islanders. Guess what? It happens! We shouldn’t over react to anything, including the practice afterwards. That said, the Rangers still have things to watch and keep an eye on. So how do we differentiate?

It happens – Everyone was bad

Every single player was bad. Rookies. Veterans. Tweeners. Goalies. Forwards. Coaches. Everyone.

It doesn’t matter after one game. But it does matter if it’s a trend. K’Andre Miller will be better, and that I am sure of. Igor Shesterkin had his first so-so game in the NHL. Henrik Lundqvist, a guy who changed the position forever, had bad games in his prime too.

David Quinn had a bad game. Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad had bad games. It was one game. Let’s move on.

Keep an eye on – Systemic issues

At the risk of beating a dead horse, the Rangers have defensive system issues. Karly hit the nail on the head. This is is perhaps the biggest thing to watch with the Rangers. They still give up the blue line by design, and that is a major problem. They also have issues with in-zone coverage, but that is a side effect of allowing opponents to walk into the zone.

The system was never going to change with Lindy Ruff in New Jersey, that much we knew. What we had hoped was Jacques Martin would bring some stability to the defense pairings and penalty kill. Both are issues, and Martin isn’t exactly an innovative thinker. He’s very good at what he does, but it is old school and it does rely heavily on personnel.

There’s only so much one can do when replacing Marc Staal with a worse version of Marc Staal. The Rangers were also done in by lack of discipline. Both need to be addressed, and it shouldn’t be 10-15 games into the season.

It happens – Blender lines

Death, Taxes, David Quinn changing up the lines. He changed the lines after a bad period, and he changed them more in the subsequent practice. We will see how long this sticks.

Quinn has a habit of letting the first 10-15 games be throw-away games to figure out his team. It’s a double edged sword. On one side, it gives time to figure out the kids in a rebuild. On the other side, the Rangers barely tread water. At some point, that will have to change. But as we’ve said, the Rangers likely weren’t competing this season. Not unless a lot of things went right in big ways.

Keep an eye on – Defense usage

Defense usage has been one of the primary things to watch on the Rangers for some time. It starts with Jack Johnson’s usage, a big red flag already. He was atrocious, as expected. We hope he turns it around, but there is no evidence –statistical or video– that shows he will. Brendan Smith is the better option at this point. But Johnson is Martin’s boy, so we shall see how this plays out.

Jacob Trouba is also becoming a concern. He’s done better with defensively minded partners in the past. He will get that chance with Ryan Lindgren in the coming game. While it does split up Lindgren and Adam Fox, Fox can play with anyone. It’s not a big deal. It is better to have two good pairs than one good pair.

Expanding on that, I’d like to see K’Andre Miller with Fox for a game. Fox is steady, and will cover some of Miller’s rookie mistakes. The duo together can find lightning in a bottle too, as both are supremely talented.

That should leave Smith with Tony DeAngelo, assuming DeAngelo keeps his cool. DeAngelo struggled with Johnson, but he should be fine with Smith.

It happens – It’s still a rebuild

Sorry to remind everyone, but this is still a rebuild. The defense has too many issues, and the scoring isn’t deep enough to cover. The goaltending is young and will go through growing pains.

The hype is real though. The Rangers have talent and are going to be contenders soon. But not this year. I hope I’m wrong, of course.

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  • The Rangers failed to get a solid legitimate veteran shutdown defenseman to help solidity the young defense. Smith alone is not the solution. Johnson is a joke and makes no sense whatsoever. What were they thinking? I said it two years ago, when everyone was glorifying Trouba, and I’ll say it again, he is over-rated and way overpaid. We got taken on that contract. He’s not the best D-man on the team as he should be for all that money.

    • Trouba is much better than what he showed last season and we certainly shouldn’t take much from one game.
      They only had a short camp to get ready.
      I bet by the middle of this season, the fans will see what the Rangers paid for when they signed Trouba to that contract. When he’s on top of his game, he reminds me of a guy like Hedman in Tampa. Able to skate into the corners and big and strong enough to knock a player off the puck.
      The thing about Trouba is that he’s not really an offensively minded player. He’s more of a 2-way guy that leans towards defense and physicality.
      As the Rangers young guys develop around Trouba, we will start to reap the rewards with him. Trouba is going to be the leader on the back end.

    • Agree with you on Trouba. I will add this: The whole team and coaching staff stunk. Players now are all getting shifted around. As far as Gauthier, are we really making him a 4th liner after 1 game? He could use 10 games on 3rd line to see if this kid can score and give him some confidence. The Rangers make the dumbest moves. We traded an AHL all star to get him, then forced to draft a defenseman in the 1st round instead of a center. We let Kevin Hayes go, and now will have to give up more solid players and prospects to find a 2nd line center! And don’t get me started on drafting an unknown goalie in the 2nd round!

  • Dave good points…yes only one game in but 4 more games 10% of year is over. It happens every once in a while that teams have bad games…but what we saw was a continuation of the playoffs, plus it was clear one team was prepared the other was not even close. So as much as David Quinn talks about young players needing to adjust to the spread of the game, maybe he needs to as well. He’s demoting and sitting young players because of lack of effort or some other reason while hurting their confidence, how about demoting him to AHL or better yet back to college. Defensive system it’s terrible doesn’t work, and their is a reluctance to change, so let’s continue to try to fit a square peg into a round hole. There has to be another coach out there that can be a better fit. I can’t stand listening to this guy anymore. There is so much talent on this young team we need to see those players be developed and take a step forward with confidence not get caught up with messy mind games.

    • I disagree with you. I think Quinn is the guy that is going to help these young guys become NHLers.
      He’s only in the NHL for the first time as a coach too so he’s growing and learning as well but you can’t expect a guy to tear it up and rewrite everything he believes works after one NHL game.
      He got a team in a rebuild into the playoffs. The Oilers been doing that for 10 years.
      The Leafs are in year 5 or 6 of their rebuild. Not that much better than the Rangers.

      • Based on what evidence is he learning? He has gotten better at blaming the players, often randomly. What else? After two years, has he learned that his original college system doesn’t work? Has he learned that young players need opportunity and if they play with AHL vets, only rare one’s will elevate them. He did not bring the team to the playoffs. He managed, after adding Panarin, to bring them to the top 24 and then shit the bed in the play-in round. Joe Judge had great quote about philosophy…don’t tell him what the players can’t do..only focus on what they can and put them in position to succeed. Quinn hasn’t done this and doesn’t appear to be able. He is putting the development of players like Kakko, Miller, Kravsov at risk just like he ruined any chance of Anderson becoming productive. Its his third year…no more excuses

        • LD Joel Edmundson FA 3.5m x 4 yrs. 27yr old nasty now with Rouge, Blanc e Bleau.
          This would allow for youngsters to develop, not now. Taxi the guys you mentioned until AHL starts

        • Anderson ruined his chance all by himself. His selfish immaturity didn’t need any assistance from anyone.

          • Andersson was an attitude from the start. Again, Rangers did not do their homework on his character before drafting him. Sounds familiar (Tony D). Gorton needs to do better before making deals.

    • “He’s demoting and sitting young players because of lack of effort or some other reason while hurting their confidence,”

      If the issue is lack of effort, than smashing confidence IS the solution. Unless players give their all, they are not worth anything and they absolutely need to learn this.

      We are so focused on the feelings of the young players. Upstarts have a swagger and are not broken easily. Sure, it’s tough if you are Sean Day and get sent to the ECHL so that Mason Geertsen can play, but anyone whose spirit is broken by getting demoted to the fourth line isn’t a hockey player.

      ***********

      People seem to not get the difference between veterans and rookies. Veterans fail because of a lack of ability. Rookies fail because they don’t follow directions and don’t try. The only solution for the former is a better player – benching and demotion gets you nothing. The latter can be affected by discipline.

  • I tell you what. I watched the Ottawa Senators put up a solid performance in their win against Toronto last night. They arguably have a less experienced and less talented roster. They are also young and they haven’t played in 11 months. And they looked great and ready. It’s one game, I get it, but it’s a comparable that I am having trouble unremembering.

    • agree with you, my issue stands, you have to be reardy to play, and juggling players from line to line is’nt the answer, talent wins in this league and maybe we have overrated players on this team.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more, Tony. I guess DQ doesn’t have teenage kids. When you deflate the confidence of an 18 or 19-year old kid, they tune you out! Kakko, DeAngelo, Buchnevich, ….sooner or later, DQ will lose the room this season if he keeps this up. Thursday’s game was simply an extension of DQs coaching from the bubble series against Carolina. No adjustment to his system. His response is to blame the players. Did you see how well Ruff prepared the Devils against Boston. Took a Cup contender to OT!

      • The problem is, my friend, that Quinn I’m sure is a good college coach. That rah-rah speeches do the trick. That simple north-south strategies work out well. But they don’t work here, at th NHL level.

        An example of why coaches matter:

        Trotz was great at Nashville but they were too poor, at the time, to get players. Yet they made the playoffs regularly.

        Then he went to Wash and won a Cup with good players. Then his successor, with the same players, gets fired in Wash.

        Then Trotz went to the Island and took the worst defensive team and made them into the best defensive team, in on season.

        Quinn has no system (even Paul Maurice said so, when talking about Pionk. Even Trouba said so, by saying that he never saw a system like the one the Rangers play). No structure. So, this idea that he is going to “develop” young players (because he came from a well known college program) is a big misnomer. Quinn can’t take that college mindset and bring it here. He’s not that creative of a coach.

        Quinn is actually ruining the development process, not helping it. So after the Canes’ series mess, I wanted hm out, before he caused more damage with the young players. He is killing Kakko. Killing him. Maybe even Chytil too.

        Sure, the Rangers may win more regular season games than lose, based on talent alone. But coaches matter in the playoffs, where the Cup is won.

        • Quinn is doing the Rangers a favor by keeping the young players’ future cap hits lower.

    • I’ve been saying that for years and I get a lot of downward knuckle draggers. I guess you say it nicer.
      But there has been a lot of goals scored in the fist games, and it looks like the goalies are not sharp and the shooters are at an advantage right now. I despise DQ but give him 10 games.

  • I really wish they had come out and played a good game this way I wouldn’t have to read for the 1000th time about how many issues there are with the team or that the team wouldn’t be contenders THIS year.

    We all know the issues, but these issues existed even last year and look how well this team played from January on … if they win the next couple of games these criticisms will quiet down — until they lose another game. That’s the way it is, that’s the way it will always be.

  • The Headline is very telling!
    You don’t play for months. It’s a new season. And your not prepared to play. In a short season no less. In your own building.
    Every game counts!! That is totally on DQ and staff.
    I know I’m beating a dead horse on this below.
    On another note, just because you sign a FA doesn’t mean he automatically plays. I thought playing time was earned.(JJ)
    No way he earned his time.
    He is slow,immobile and a total disaster.
    DQ is doing everyone a disservice “fans’team and anyone else if he is still in the top 6.”

  • I don’t buy the ‘it’s only one game’ bs. I can accept a loss but this was, to put it mildly, a complete, total disaster. Not one aspect of this game was even close to positive. I’ve seen 57 opening nights and this one was up there with the worst ever. What were they doing during the off season?

    We’re now stuck with 3 sub-par dmen. What did we need with jack johnson? Was signing him a condition of Martin’s employment? Was deangelo at the insurrection? And trouba is another in a history of overpaid middle of the road layers. And can we please send krappo to the AHL for a year so he can maybe learn what north American hockey is? And Quinn is definitely the wrong coach.

    Is another rebuild in the works? It sure looked like a necessity based on that ‘performance’.

    • What was telling to me was there was no talk on the ice. Barzal lifted Foxs’ stick like a midget v a mite. Fox should have been told someone was on his butt. Cant have quiet ice.

  • The title says it all!

    I think Quinn may feel more pressure internally that we thought. His reaction just feels desperate by changing everything right away. Honestly, I would just throw the game away and re-focus on tonight. It doesn’t make sense to me to walk away from everything in camp right away. As a coach, it kind of invalidates everything DQ was saying during camp to just abandon things like this.

    I was worried about this. In particular, K’Andre Miller. The kid may be impressive. But until Thursday, he had not faced NHL level competition that really doesn’t give a crap who he is and what his potential is. And Quinn put him in a spot where he has nowhere to go but down. They did the same thing with Hajek last season, and it’s basically ruining him.

    Maybe these changes get a reaction tonight. But I would have liked to see more patience…and confidence… from Quinn on this one. But I guess everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face. And boy, did they get punched in the face the other night.

    • Great comment. I can’t really argue with any of it.

      All I’ll say is tonight’s game will tell us a lot. Win or lose, we all know what we need to see to feel better about this group.

      Teams have clunkers, but they are so much more noticable when it’s the first game of the season! How they respond will be telling.

    • Agreed, Miller should be 3rd pairing to start off with — perhaps with Brendan Smith, playing sheltered minutes just to get acclimated. I don’t understand what they see in Johnson, it just doesn’t compute.

    • No, they got punched in the face in the Canes’ series.

      The Isles just exposed what most of us already knew. This is not a revelation, is a continuance. Big difference.

      The problem is that the Rangers were very good from Jan to March, and that was some sort of “confirmation” that Quinn was a good NHL coach.

      But it also coincided with Panarin and Zib on tremendous scoring streaks and Shesty/Georgie playing out of their minds. So they won regular season games, mostly on talent.

      It all came crashing down in the Canes’ series, against a team the Rangers have owned for years.

      But I agree with what you said, overall.

  • Either DQ spent zero time thinking about the lineup before the season, which is why he’s willing to trash his lines after a single game, or he has no confidence in the careful planning that *should* have gone into it, and hitting the panic button after a single game. Either way, the guy is a mess. This should be his final season on Broadway, the fans aren’t fooled everyone knows last year’s success was mainly due to a few guys with stellar individual seasons and almost nothing to do with the coaching staff, and upper management shouldn’t be fooled either. If DQ makes it through this season it had better be just because Gorton and JD have their eye one someone who isn’t available yet and don’t want to upset the apple cart too much during a weird short season.

    • If you can’t give him credit for over performing players, you certainly don’t have the right to place blame on him for underperforming players.

  • Its one game…one..and Quinn is already jerking everyone around except himself and his own staff. The Rangers looked flat, uninspired and frankly out of shape. But worse….is the post game debrief and anticipated changes. Forget the D for a second ( and the maddening free entry scheme that implies a Culture of Soft)….this guy is now ( again) yanking Kakko around and now demoting him. Look..he and a bunch sucked but now demoting him? You gotta let these guys play; make mistakes; learn and THEN ASSESS. I just think Quinn is the wrong guy for the wrong team. He is arbitrary in his application of consequences—Johnson is horrible and had what, 20 min of TOI? Howland must have pictures of not just Quinn but JD? And he lacks the humility to say we sucked and that is on me and Martin.

    • Before training camp: Yes Kakko will play with Panarin and Strome;
      At training camp: Yes Kakko is playing with Panarin and Strome;
      1st period 1st game: Yes Kakko is playing with Panarin and Strome;
      2nd period 1st Game: No, Kakko won’t play with Panarin and Strome.

      Nothing like conviction and letting the players try to work things out.

      • he just lacks the leadership maturity and self confidence to coach at this level. Dude should have run an AHL team before taking this job….and Gordon/Slats/whoever should have been more disciplined in terms of what they wanted from bench leadership. Looks like the Jets found a guy who understand NY; looks like the Giants have as well……Rangers got a guy who has the self confidence of a dog that has been beaten.

  • The amount of panic after one game from the fans is alarming. While it is true that they were totally sleep walking all game and were not very engaged. It also must be understood that they had no pre season games to get the rust out and get their legs. The Islanders are essentially the same team now for the last 3 seasons and don’t need nearly the same amount of time as us.

    What is alarming to me is that Johnson gets 2nd pair defense after what surely was a performance that should have gotten him benched if not cut out right. Instead , he is on the second pair while ADA will be scratched for actually showing some passion after one of a number of brutal calls by the refs.

    It will be very telling how they come out and play tonight. Even if they lose, I expect to see them compete hard and smart . I want to see passion and physical play where appropriate. This vanilla attitude that so many on the team exhibit way too often is unacceptable.

    Trouba has a lot to prove I particularl

  • I agree with Dave’s article for the most part.
    Personally, I don’t know if after one game I’d change 3/4 of the lines and all the D pairs. If they lose again tonight what is his recourse gonna be? I think it’s a panic move…and a bad one at that.

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