Through two games, we’ve seen two extremes from the Rangers. They were atrocious in the opener, then played the most complete game we’ve seen in a while in the second game. While the games were polar opposites, there was one consistent – lazy stick penalties by the NY Rangers.
In the first game against the Isles, the Rangers took an incredible nine penalties. Of those nine, four were stick penalties, plus one too many men and one unsportsmanlike. That’s six bad penalties. In the second game, the Rangers cut the number of penalties in half (that’s good!). However, of those four, three were stick penalties. On the bright side, the Rangers didn’t have any discipline penalties. Also good!
Young Team Inconsistency
This is going to be a theme this year. The Rangers are a young team. The second-youngest in the league, actually. Expecting the ups and downs all year is a given. While most of the focus is going to be on overall performance, penalties taken is a big part of it.
Young teams take penalties. It’s basically a rite of passage. A messed up rite of passage, but a rite of passage nonetheless. Inconsistency is already showing in two games, and it’s something that will continue to rear its ugly head. This is a learning year for the Rangers, and part of that is stick penalties.
Neutral Zone Play
Over the past two games, we’ve been stressing the stark difference in how the Rangers played the neutral zone. In the first game, they were very passive, which led to the Isles gaining the offensive zone with speed. The Rangers backed off the blue line, thus essentially ensuring the Isles maintained possession in the offensive zone. Naturally this leads to stick penalties.
In game two, the Rangers pressured the neutral zone. This led to less puck time for the Isles, which naturally leads to fewer penalties for the Rangers. Another aspect is the Isles inability to maintain a consistent rush. This means less speed through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. This, you guessed it, leads to fewer penalties.
This is going to be a rollercoaster ride of a season. We’ve already experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. We will see more of the same, and expect to be frustrated with the number of penalties taken in any single game. We’ve been preaching this for a while.
Maybe the highs will outweigh the lows. But expect the NY Rangers to take penalties, and expect to be frustrated. I, for one, look forward to the comments after every loss.