How to end the NY Rangers losing streak

The NY Rangers are currently in a four game losing streak. The sky is falling, if you read social media. Yesterday was just terrible all around, as the Rangers played their worst game since the opener. The timing was funny, since I had just written that they were better than their record. I guess they took offense to that?

The sky is not falling, and the Rangers will end the losing streak. It’s not a matter of it, it’s a matter of when. There are a few things they can do to keep the losing at bay in the long term. But are they willing to take these steps?

Bench Jack Johnson

Sorry Jack Johnson, time to sit in the press box. The Rangers have not scored with Johnson on the ice at all this season. Worse yet is that at even strength, Johnson has been on the ice for four goals. He’s been on the ice for three powerplay goals against as well. That’s 0 GF and 7 GA.

Normally I’d have some kind of counterpoint that the underlying numbers are good. But Johnson is by far the worst defenseman on the team in CF% (46.45) and xGF% (41.69). So there’s nothing that paints him in a good light.

Brendan Smith, by comparison, is sporting a 65.78 xGF% and a 59.05 CF%. Small sample size warning, but those are the best on the team for defensemen. That’s not to say Smith is the best defenseman on the team, it’s to say he’s earned a permanent role in the lineup over Johnson for the time being. For what it’s worth, Smith has been on the ice for 4 Rangers goals, and 2 goals against.

Manage Injuries

The injury to Filip Chytil is a big blow. It would be lessened if Mika Zibanejad wasn’t off to an awful start. However the Rangers are without their best center to start the season, and their best center last season until Mika gets his game together. The good thing is that Mika still draws attention on the ice, opening up space for others. But with him struggling and Chytil out, the Rangers have no centers left.

Center depth was an issue heading into the season, and now it’s an even bigger issue. Morgan Barron might be an option. However it seems like the Rangers want to get him AHL time first.

Luckily Colin Blackwell has performed very well. So well, in fact, that he earned a top-six shot last night. And guess what? He looked good in that role. He’s outperformed everyone by a wide margin, to the tune of 81.36 xGF% and 71.41 CF%. Blackwell is not a savior, but he can bridge the gap. He’s been far better than Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, and Brett Howden. Again, small sample size warning.

More Consistency

The Rangers are consistently inconsistent. Interestingly enough, they played a decent defensive game yesterday. Buffalo’s xGF at even strength was just 1.77. The problem was the offense got nothing going, to the tune of a 1.4 xGF for the Rangers. Given all that firepower, that offensive performance is inexcusable.

A lot of this can be attributed to the horrible starts by the big guns. Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Tony DeAngelo, and Ryan Strome have all been some level of bad to start the season. One of the keys to the season was all of them repeating their performances from last season. Clearly that is not happening. Nor should we have expected it to happen.

What we should have expected is far better performance in their underlying numbers. Kreider is a notorious slow starter. Zibanejad is likely still feeling COVID effects. Panarin will be fine. However those warnings on DeAngelo –no longer on PP1, so expect those points to come down hard– and Strome –everything said he wasn’t going to repeat it– have been true thus far.

All of them are skilled enough to turn it around. And it’s likely most of them will.

Ending the NY Rangers losing streak and climbing out of the hole they’ve dug themselves isn’t an overnight thing. The players need to be better. The coaches need to be better. And the puck needs to bounce a little bit their way.

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  • Panarin isn’t having a horrible start, he is averaging a PPG, just because he doesn’t have 15 points already doesn’t mean he is having a bad start, and the rangers are fine once Mika and laf wake up, the team will be playing real well. LGR

    • You can score points and not look great — that’s Panarin so far. His decision making has been off, his passes aren’t crisp and precise, etc. If he was just a pretty good hockey player, he would be fine … he’s an immortal hockey God playing like a mortal one. Doesn’t help that Strome is “off” as well and they can’t find a RW to work on that line.

  • I would agree that you sit JJ. I also think that you try to play a whole game with the top 3 lines in tack. You need to put Tony D back on the #1 PP unit and give the coach a short memory as he takes out his frustrations on only a few players. Maybe Zibby needs to miss a few shifts to shake him up.

    Look, if the top 2 lines are not scoring, then try to use them more effectively. Stop running them out there every other shift and maybe they will have something in the tank for the last 10 minutes of the game.

  • 1. JJ was also in the penalty box for 2 goals against SH. Send him to Hartford and be done with this experiment already. I am having visions of AV and Tanner Glass.

    2. We will break the streak but will the coach be here? The next 3 games are vs Buffalo and Pittsburgh twice. We lose 2 of the 3 and something needs to change. (1-7-1 in the last 9 games going back to the play offs) Interesting thing about this team is D is not the problem, O is. And I can’t help but wonder if Jacques Martin won’t be the interim head coach before long. Only issue I have there is the love affair he and others seem to have with JJ.

    3. Face offs matter. And we are so bad at that it’s hard to believe. How do you literally lose every face off over almost 2 periods?

    4. PP-Strome and Trouba both need to be taken off the PP for a few games. Chytil wasn’t getting PP time (before his injury)because he couldn’t win face offs. Well Trouba can’t keep the puck in the zone and can’t hit on the big shot attempts. Strome can’t seem to connect on anything. Brooks was trying to make a case about Fox being on PP1 vs ADA. Fox isn’t the problem. In fact on the PP he’s been our best player IMO. It’s Miller time on PP2. Let him come in for Trouba. He’s earned it. As for Strome without Chytil it’s a little more challenging to replace Strome. But give Blackwell a try in the short term. The message needs to be sent, but it needs to be sent to the Veterans, because they aren’t helping the kids.

    5. Goal tending is also been marginal. Not a lot we can do here. They are keeping us in the games but they are just average at this point.

    • yes, yes and maybe not….yes to Trouba out and Miller in on the PP. Face-offs…with a former player pool that includes Messier, MacTavish and others, can we not hire someone to coach JUST face-offs …it would certainly be worth the money…and I still say that Fox’s success last year and Miller’s this year to date makes me think that keeping Morgan Barron in the AHL is a mistake, I think in the long run that is the better option , if the Blackwell/Barron option is all that is available.

      • I agree with you on Barron. That said I believe they will keep him in Hartford for the time being. Is that the right choice? IMO no, especially with our Center situation being what it is. The team is concerned about ELC bonus and the cap. So I think for now we have to work with the players that are on the current roster. Our lack of center depth is certainly an issue that needs a lot of attention in the future.

  • First and foremost, ADA and JJ should never ever be a D Pair!
    JJ should never see the ice in a Ranger uniform.
    I find it funny,ADA and Lemeiux get benched and sit out games,,but JJ always takes his regular turn, and also last night Kreids takes a real bad penalty, no consequences.
    Thought DQ mantra was responsibility.. I guess for only a certain few.
    I’m tired of all his line shuffling, we need some continuity going forward..
    we still need more emotion on the ice.

      • The idea is to put your team on the ice,to give you the best chance to win.
        Not play someone just because he signed here as a F.A.
        Playing time is supposed earned not given.
        This is just a dis service to everyone.
        5 games: JJ minus 4 and on the ice for 3 goals on the PK what does that tell you!!

        Street clothes…

    • Has anybody considered that certain roster decisions are made collectively beyond the coach?

      Not lineup decisions, roster decisions.

  • I think that the short training camp was a significant factor in the Rangers’ cold start. Not having enough practice time is probably particularly difficult for the young team. Yes, some of the vets have been ice cold thus far, but as a group the Rangers are young and probably would have benefitted from the usual camp time, but that was not possible due to the pandemic reduced season.

    Panarin is not scoring, and neither are Zibanejad and Strome and DeAngelo. That is going to hurt until they start to find the net.

    JJ is simply bad. Tony D is not being put in a position to succeed thus far by Quinn’s utilization of him and pairing him with JJ. Yeah Tony sinned on the boneheaded penalty, but although Fox is smart and skilled, the Rangers’ power play seemed more dynamic to me when Tony was on the 1st unit because he can operated down low smoothly and not just man the point. Interestingly, when the Rangers needed to score last night at the end of the contest, Quinn paired Fox and DeAngelo. I think that he should get a clue and pair Tony with either Fox or Smith consistently, and sit JJ unless someone needs a rest. But what the heck do I know, I am just another dumb fan!

    • “I think that the short training camp was a significant factor in the Rangers’ cold start.”

      In a way I think you have put your finger on why David Quinn is not the right coach for this team – or any NHL team that wants to win the Cup for that matter.

      Everyone had a short camp, not just the Rangers. This was also true in August. What did they other coaches do? They adapted. Well, how do you win the Cup?
      A. Build a very good team.
      B. Adapt to the four different teams you must beat four games out of seven.

      The bottom line on Quinn is we can argue as much as we want about whether or not he is the man who can achieve (A), but we have pretty clear evidence that he will ultimately fail on (B) if he ever gets that far.

      • I agree that other teams seemed more prepared than the Rangers at the outset and I wondered why Quinn didn’t have them better organized at the start.

        However, their overall team defense seems to be better than last season even with JJ in the mix because the forwards are doing a better job. Other teams are getting less space in which to operate. They have been frustrating guys like Crosby (at least when Chytil was there). So, they are better in some areas. But they are shuffling a lot and looked particularly unprepared in their first games, and that was in contrast to the Devils who looked better coached. By Lindy Ruff!

  • Not sure why you would say Zibanejad is feeling effects of Covid when he himself said repeatedly in press conferences he’s feeling fine and has no effects from the virus!

    • This teams problems are also the result of our drafting. They choose to take more defensemen and goalies instead of a good center in the 1st 2 rounds. Now there are no good centers in our system which means we will have to over pay for one in a trade. Once again our draft history comes up to bite us.

  • Until some of the bigger names (Trouba) take a seat, nothing will change. We may be 5-8 games away from being realistically eliminated from the playoff race.

  • At some point someone will be asking if Mika’s performance and his recovery from Covid are related. Oh look, I just did … of course it may just be because he missed camp, but after 4-5 games he should be better.

  • They look tired to me. The conditioning just doesn’t seem to be there. Or at least it doesn’t look like it’s on the same level as some of these other teams. But they look like they just don’t have the legs and that is feeding into everything else. There were a few times last night where guys are moving their legs, and just not gaining on anyone… and that’s when they skate. Again last night, there was a lot of gliding especially when they have the puck.

    And no emotion! No real hitting, no shoving, no crashing the net, no post-whistle scrums, no one in anyone’s face. Can we at least see someone out there look mad? They played the 3rd period like they were up 3-2. Our best players can’t be complacent.

    Both Micheletti and Valiquette tore into them last night (as much as they could). That’s pretty rare for those guys. All eyes are starting to focus on the guy behind the bench. We’re two weeks in and this team is pretty lifeless right now…

    • You nailed it Chris. The Rangers need to raise their compete level. They have to win the puck battles, fight to get open and like you said crash the net. Too much perimeter play and not enough grinding.

  • Jack Johnson is a horrible hockey player at this stage in his career, I love JD, but this was a terrible move and the Rangers are trying to convince all the critics that they are smarter than them by throwing this stiff over the boards every other shift.

    Jacob Trouba is a feeble minded dman and is fine as a 4-5, dman, give him top pair minutes and he isn’t able to handle it and as history has always shown, the Rangers now have a player with a horrible contract on their hands and will be forced to move quality players out because of the same mistakes they continue to make….28 years without a cup…u would think they would learn from their past mistakes!

    Kevin Rooney over Gauither, really? You gave the kid 5 games to prove himself…what a way to develop.

    There is no fire on this team…Pepe is on a short leash and looks scared to be himself. Tony gets unsportsmanlike and everyone wants him dead. I embrace the douchiness of both players…i’ll take that over the walking dead of Trouba, Kreider, Strome, Johnson and a host of others.

    K’andre should be paired with Tony, fox and lingren and trouba with smith on the 3rd pair.

  • Almost time to start thinking about a replacement coach. The defense actually does seem to be playing better, but the offense needs a boost! Maybe the first move is to bring in a new O-coach.

  • Jack Johnson should be in street clothes. I would move Strome down to 3rd line. Hell, I’d put a winger in the circle in place of Strome. 27% FO? Can’t do any worse.

  • Last night it was like a dream where everything they tried did not work. The dream was so real. Panarin had all his passes blocked, in fact all the passes were being blocked. The coach could not figure out who to put with whom. The pinch by the 8 million dollar man resulted in a goal. DeAngelo could not find his feet. The number 1 pick feels like friday the 13th. Not that he is bad but he could not buy a goal.
    I know what is wrong with Zib, a couple games ago he hit the boards hard and hurt his wrist and that is why he can’t take a draw. I don’t think its the covid, but if it is, he needs to come by me, I have salt therapy treatment for him.
    I feel sorry for Strome because he has the worst night mare and its for the whole season so far. Kreider is fine and was playing hard.
    Any time you want someone to fail you put an anchor on his line, Howden with Kakko.
    The coach is the worst chef, he can only make scrambled eggs. Just like his lines.

    • Your comments are entertaining and I mean that in a good way- always have a chuckle, Albeit sometimes I do not know what you’re trying to convey. Do not feel sorry from Strome- he is not good at the 2C, and is a turn over machine.

      • I feel sad for the coach. He is a sad coach. I think he is hated more than the X President. In the beginning I was the only one that hated him. Now I only get a few downward knuckles as compared to a bunch.

  • One player who is being ignored is Bitetto. His record paints him as a marginal NHL player, sort of like Colin Blackwell. It seems proper to let him dress for a couple of games and see what we have. Maybe nothing, but there is a nice payoff if he is better than Smith and Johnson.

    I also don’t get why Kevin Rooney isn’t valued more. He was a good player last year and is only 25.

  • A lot of valid points made in the article and in the comments. The best way to end a losing streak and start a winning streak is to outwork your opponent along the boards, in the crease and in every puck battle. Good things will happen for any team that achieves these aspects. Haven’t seen enough of any of that this season. No sense of urgency, no sustained forecheck and no unified efforts.

    -Never watched JJ play before this year. He is bad and needs to sit.

    -Panarin is trying but is swarmed when he has puck and his line mates aren’t getting open or helping out enough.

    -Their PP is too predictable. They don’t or won’t go to the guy in the high slot ever, which is where Buffalo scored twice from last night.

    – Too many line/D-pair changes up and down the lineup every game. Coach em up and let em get settled into some sort of normalcy.

      • Thanks Ranger Joe! Let’s hope they come out blazing tonight against the Sabres, like they did in the 2nd game of the season versus the Isles.

  • im not a hockey guru just a fan. Filip was a fav of mine it hurt so much to see him laid out like that What was the responce?? nada. this team has no balls or fire, players and coaches all contribute to this. there to easy to play against until that changes, nothing will change.

    • Idiot

      This was an accident – a knee on knee collision between Filip Chityl and Evan Rodrigues. Rodrigues is out long term, just like Chityl. There is no excuse for retribution here.

  • The Rangers have excellent team metrics across the board (top 10 pretty much anywhere) and yet only won 1 out of 6. Crazy.

    • As I mentioned earlier, how many more wins could we have if we turned some of those one or two goal 3rd period leads into victories? This was a troubling pattern last season, also, blowing games late in the 3rd period. smh

  • Strome is terrible…..and vanilla soft…..JJ is a buddy buddy signing. I have been saying this forever……The NYR leadership is a country club of friends of friends of friends..I thought that JD would change this, be assertive, and toughen up the team….We are way too soft and the make-up of this team is all wrong……

  • 1. Need to shot more. Stop deferring to pass in the slot. Buch, laf, etc…
    2. Teams out compete us to the puck.
    3. Teams seem to think two steps ahead.
    4. We can’t get over the blue line. It is depressingly funny.
    5. Coach has arbitrary rules
    6. Coach doesn’t have team prepared.
    7. Coach doesn’t seem to be able to tell them about 1, 2, 3 and 4.
    8. Coach doesn’t provide line or pairing stability.
    9. Coach doesn’t seem to be able to teach them about how to win face offs.
    10. Coach is not NHL caliber.

  • I wish i could see Barron in the lineup, but I don’t believe Quinn’ words any more. He prefer playing low cost vets over the youth… We are keep losing games anyway and this college level coach doesn’t understand this lesson

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