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.