Analysis

The Rangers are better than their record thus far

The Rangers are currently dead last in the Eastern Division with a 1-3-1 record. There is panic in the air after (checks notes) 5 games. Yet there isn’t real reason to panic. It’s rare to hear that after a 1-3-1 start, but it’s true. The Rangers are better than their record. If they continue to play the way they are, then they will go on a run.

Good Process

Good process is something we preach here. It’s why we were down on Alain Vigneault in those final years. It’s why we started recognizing the big turn that came in December last season. Process breeds results, if you’re patient enough.

The big thing to recognize is that the Rangers are doing well in their underlying numbers. This is huge movement from last year, where they had a historically bad start before turning it around from December through March.

The Rangers have actually been doomed by bad luck. They are shooting two full percentage below their rate last year. This is mostly behind slow starts from Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Artemi Panarin. This won’t last.

Granted losing Filip Chytil for an extended period of time will hurt. But injuries happen.

A few bad luck plays

The Rangers are two bad goals and a bad defensive play away from being 3-2-0. Remember that Ryan Lindgren slid the puck into the net in the first game against the Penguins. Then in the second game Igor Shesterkin got beat on two very weak goals. Those are rookie mistakes.

The process in both of those games was very good. But three weird plays cost them three points. These aren’t everyday occurrences, as Shesterkin isn’t going to let those goals in often. Lindgren also isn’t going to own-goal himself regularly.

This is a case of what-if syndrome, but if those three plays don’t happen, we aren’t having these conversations. They did though, so we are.

It will turn

A few things to consider. Zibanejad, Kreider, and Panarin aren’t going to play like this all season. The Rangers are way too skilled to shoot 7% all season. It’s really those three that need to get going, and to a lesser extent Ryan Strome.

Shesterkin will make rookie mistakes, but I think it’s safe to assume he won’t let in goals like that on a regular basis. The Rangers have been very unlucky thus far. Patience is a virtue, and the wins will come. The Rangers are better than their record, even if it’s hard to see.

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  • I agree Dave. Outside of the first game they’ve been in every game and carried play in most of those contests. With any kind of puck luck and some better goaltending they could easily be 3-2 or even 4-1 (Blackwell stood on his head in that Devils game.).

    There’s a lot of good things that are developing: Kaako and Chytil are engaged consistently so far, and look to be taking the next step. DeGuissepe is playing great. The fourth line was very good last game. On defense, Fox and Lingren are playing well and Miller looks comfortable on the big stage. Smith, outside of that pinch that led to breakaway goal, has played well. Trouba has shown flashes and is off to a better start than last season.

    Once their big boys on top 6 get going, they’re going to be just fine.

    • Pretty much my position. We’ve gotten less than expected performances from ADA, Shesterkin, Panarin, Kreider and Mika up to this point. It would be unreasonable to expect these players don’t round out into form over the course of the next few games. I mean Mika didn’t even have a camp and was possibly injured (2nd game?) … add to all this that DQs constant reshuffling of lines doesn’t help these players rediscover their chemistry. Lastly there’s the adjustment to life without Fast — some here will mock me for saying that, but he was an important cog on the 2nd line (at least from a chemistry standpoint) and on the PK. He worked well on that line the same way PDG works well with Chytil and Kakko (at least based on these first few games).

      • Yup…agreed, Tanto. To play as well as they have, with wholesale changes to every line and D-pairs the first 4 games is pretty impressive. I don’t agree with jerking the 18yr old Laf around on 3 different lines and even his wing position the first 4 games like DQ did, But the kid has held his own all things considered.

  • Hate to disagree, but you are as good or bad as your record says. We try hard, are in most games, but you need to get points. So far, we do not have the skills to “finish off” opponents. That is not the making of a good team, that is the makings of a young team.

  • This is truly a season that the brass needs to involve themselves in. Are Zibby, Buch and Krieder really as good as they sometimes played last year? Is Strome the future? We need to build or buy three top lines. I feel that if we are in a playoff run, some deals wont be made, but if we fall short, look for a bit of a correction, moving guys to set up the team for next year.

    We are playing tough, but still not playing a full 60 minutes. We need points and coming close but losing does not do the trick.

    The first 2 lines need to generate more than 60% of the offense. That is not happening now.

  • I’m not sure what it is about The Rangers, but they have become consistent when it comes to slow starts. And not just the past few years. They went to the cup finals in 2014 , but that season started off pretty bad.(1-3) and 2 of those losses were back to back blow outs. It seems to be an annual event (ex 2015) And I can’t really quantify it. At least the process is working. And the kids have generally played well. There is a lot to like about what’s happening. It’s a development year.

  • If we are a “good team”, then we need to start getting points. A good place to start is 2 games against Buffalo. Get 3 points and I can believe we are a good team, get less that that, we are mere average in a tough division.

  • There are certainly bright flashes from the team, and some players (Chytil, Fox, Miller) have really stepped up, but there have been crucial breakdowns and poor performances (Strome, Shesterkin), as well. I have a feeling that there are going to have to be some significant changes made, and sooner, rather than later.

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