Rants

Are the Rangers really ready to make jump to contention?

I should have seen the result of this game in Boston coming. The second Jaro Halak was named starter I should have expected a shutout. But could someone please explain to me how this team once again came into a game looking flat and ill-prepared? No Artemi Panarin tonight was questionable at best, you hope he is in Saturday, but even he wouldn’t have been able to save what was just an all-around back night for the Rangers. It was a microcosm of a roller coaster season, which has me questioning if the Rangers can make the jump to contention.

Alex Georgiev gave us a real news worthy story when he punched Tony DeAngelo, but he doesn’t even look like an AHL goaltender right now. This dude struggles in all facets of shots; blue line slappers, slot shots, dirty area goals. You name it, he can’t stop it right now. But that’s a minor issue.

What Is This Season’s Direction?

I truly don’t know what the goal of this season is if you are the Rangers. I guess the goal was just to build with the young core and maybe make the playoffs, but no one is stepping up to the occasion.

Chris Kreider appears to be going on his inevitable invisibility run. Mika Zibanejad can’t hit the net. David Quinn is putting Alexis Lafrenière with Brett Howden for a number of shifts. It’s truly a joke what this season has become.

I brought up an interesting discussion with fellow BSB writer Brandon Cohen. His take: The Rangers should trade their pick 1st round pick for a center during the offseason. The more you think about it, looking at the draft class with a defense heavy first round, it’s not a bad idea. The Rangers have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to high octane defensive prospects. Not all of whom will make the NHL roster and would ultimately just sit and rot in Hartford.

So take that draft position, as well as any assortment of roster players or prospects and try to get an NHL ready asset into this organization. Could be Eichel. Could be a Barkov if they wanted to go that route and extend him. The options are rather endless. This offseason though is either going to accelerate the Rangers into the contention window, or set this franchise back a ways if Gorton does not play his cards right.

Where’s The Leadership?

A major factor in my opinion is a sect of the coaching staff and ultimately Quinn. You can’t deny that when he had his effective veterans, Quinn did instill a resilient identity into that team at first. They did not appear to be out of any game despite having a shell of the talent they currently have on the team. Could have been him, could have been the veterans presences of Fast, Staal, Lundqvist, etc., but that aspect is missing this season.

Last night the Rangers gave up a short-handed goal in the first period and never recovered. It’s funny when you watch the Knicks this season, with essentially the same lineup as last season’s team. Tom Thibodeau has them playing hard and they are buying in to his message. You bring it back to the Rangers, where’s the leadership of Kreider, of Trouba, of Zibanejad to hold people accountable; even themselves? Quinn’s message might be growing stale on the team as he continues to make some questionable in game decisions, but these guys are professionals. They can’t muster up some gall to battle night in and night out?

And What About The Other Assistant?

Another note on the coaching staff is David Oliver. Oliver was brought in for his familiarity with the “X’s and O’s” of hockey. But then how is this power play–which ranks 25th in the league at the time of this post–failing to produce any sense of a threatening chance? There’s no chance of Rangers contention without a functioning powerplay.

Why do the coaches insist on not having more than one shooter per unit on each power play? You’re telling me Lafrenière can’t be a shooter on the top unit on the off wing as a one-timer option? The performance of the power play warrants the questions. Oliver might need to go, and be replaced by a Jacques Martin equal that will have the same effect on the powerplay. The Rangers have the personnel for it; it’s a shame they are not producing like it.

We talked about the short-handed goal earlier. That was the third short-handed goal the Rangers have surrendered to the Bruins this season. You just can’t justify that for how often you play your divisional opponents this year. If the Bruins have adjusted to the Rangers, why can’t the Rangers in-turn adjust to anything the Bruins do? They are legitimately intimidated by the Bergeron line. They’re like an enigma. If the Rangers can learn to actually adjust in game and not have a defeatist mind-set, then this team is ready for the jump. For now though, they haven’t been able to, which means the Rangers aren’t in true contention, and it causes misery.

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  • Contenders? More like pretenders at this point. All potential and no real studs make this a sad team. Look for a major move at the trade deadline.

  • Man, the giving up vibe is strong today. And unjustified. How is it that people forget who the Rangers played last night? They played one of the 3 best teams in the NHL, and their goalie has killed the Rangers throughout his career.

    The idea that these guys are intimidated by the Perfection Line is a joke. They are the best line in the NHL; scoring a lot and defending well is what they do. The Rangers trashed this team eight games ago, facing that line. Was Pastrnak intimidated by the Rangers that night? Of course not.

    Right now, bad goaltending is killing the Rangers. Georgiev is slumping; the Tsar gets hurt a lot; and Kinkaid isn’t gonna be a savior.

    Lastly, anyone who thought the Rangers were a playoff team this year—in this division—was deluded. There are five teams better than them in the division. And what a surprise—the Rangers are behind all of them in the standings. No playoffs this year helps the longterm strategy as well. They can bank another high draft pick, and there’ll be less chance of the virus striking down players in the more wide-open circumstances of this year’s playoffs. A lot of the complaints on this board of late sound like reactionary tantrums. Take a deep breath and look at the big picture.

    • I, for one, never thought the Rangers were remotely close to a playoff team. However, you can see how fragile the team makeup of this team really is. A lot has happened to this team this year…guess what, a lot has happened to a lot of teams this year…you are looking for a certain response or push back. I see a lot of guys who are afraid to make mistakes out there and then a ton of others who are just skating around.

      Trouba, the 8 million dollar man…is a 4/5 dman.

      Kreider the great…against the Devils and Sabres…vs. real teams…not so much.

      Not tantrums…it’s reality…

      I want development….if you want a lesson, just follow the Islanders format. Walstrom played all of last year in the minors…they bring him up and play him in spots…same with Dobson.

      They don’t force the kids to handle too much too soon..,

      It is even happening with Fox, for as good as he is…we shouldn’t have to force him to play 25 minutes a night in every high pressure situation.

      Miller is carrying a heavier burden then expected.

      I wanted Chara to mentor kids like him…look what it did for Mcavoy, we decided to go with Jack Johnson, for more money, makes sense, right?

      So, tantrum, no, poor management decisions, yes.

      Just think how much more effective a guy like Lemiuex would be if he didn’t have to stare down 10 guys on the other team who play just like him…1 vs. 10 is pretty demoralizing…

      • Just to counter your argument a bit regarding development—doing what the Islanders have done with Dobson and Wahlstrom is what playoff teams do with young talent. The Rangers haven’t been that level of team for four seasons now, so there’s been no reason to bring the kids along slowly. Yet Quinn has done this halfway—instead of feeding minutes to Kakko and Lafreniere, he’s started them like bottom 6 forwards. Think of Ottawa recently with Tkachuk and Chabot, or the Devils with Hischier and Hughes, or Philly with Konecny and Provorov—those teams have thrown these guys right into tough minutes. It’s accelerated their development as players and the teams have benefited from it. If Quinn had gotten Auston Matthews as a rookie, he’d have played him in the bottom 6.

        And also—Lemieux has got a lot of heart, but he is who he is. A fourth liner. He should never be on the power play.

    • It’s not about giving up. The team is not responding to this coaching staff anymore. An absolute clear sign that a coaching change is necessary. This team flat out looks lost and regressing…….

      • They should definitely fire Quinn. He’s been horrendous since day 1, and should’ve been fired after the no-show in the playoffs last year.

    • Unlike the last two seasons, they didn’t show up and didn’t compete. This is why people are alarmed today like me. It’s happening way too much this season. Not a good sign.

      • Not showing up under Quinn only happened this year? did you miss the three-game annihilation at the hands of Carolina in the playoffs last year?

  • Come on guys what did you think a rebuild would take 2-3 years? Well guess what it takes minimum 3-5 years. Go look at the teams who did a full rebuild and you will see I’m right. The problem here is everyone got crazy when we signed the Bread Man figuring we can win sooner, well that was wrong. In rebuilds there are ups and downs as young players learn how to win, how to play hard every night, and what it takes to be a pro hockey player. So just sit back and learn so patients while this team grows day by day and learn to take the good with the bad.

  • PATIENCE. Young teams are known for their inconsistency. This is what a rebuilding team looks like.

    * Zib (1C) has ONE goal 5×5 and looks like a shell of himself.
    * TDA, the 5th highest scoring D in the NHL in 2019-20 has missed most of the season and his termination added drama for a young team;
    * Panarin has played 14 of 25 games and took a leave of absence that added some more drama.
    * Chytil has played 11 of 25 games
    * Trouba has played 17 of 25 games.
    * Kaako has played 18 of 25 games.

    The fact that the youngest team in the NHL is just 2 games below .500 while dealing with all of these issues in a difficult division is actually a very positive sign.

    PATIENCE.

    • Most fans solely focus on the last 2 or 3 games played, if they tear off 2-3 wins against a quality opponent they’ll all start singing a slightly different tune.

    • All teams have issues – it is how you respond to these issues that expose the soul of the team. We are not firing on all cylinders and the coach needs to take some blame.

      • I never suggested otherwise …. but the exaggerated depth of these emotional responses to mini-losing streaks is tangible.

  • Tyler, I think you need to steady the emotions a bit. Last night was a clunker without a doubt. But they’ve recently played some excellent games, even against those very same Bruins. Mama told me that there would be days like this. I expect it with a young team. Even the best teams pitch a clunker once in a while. A young team does it more often.

  • This Tyler dudes MO seems to be reactionary tantrums, I feel the frustration too but you got to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture for this team. It’s going to take time for all this talent to meet its potential, along the way some of the pieces probably aren’t going to quite get there or workout with us. That’s why you bank the amount of prospects that we have.

    Look back at who emerged for the Rangers the last time we were perennial playoff team. There were flat out misses on heralded prospects we were sure of, there were surprises we weren’t counting on, and over time a core came into place. It wouldn’t have been clear to see at the beginning, but it eventually it came into focus.

    Right now I would argue that core is just beginning to take shape but there are still so many guys finding there way (or maybe not so much). We have a picture in our heads of what all these heralded youngsters will be and what roles they’ll fill but the truth is everything is up in the air and down the road there’ll be some disappointments along with some surprises. Lets hope the later out weigh the former.

  • The Rangers need new coaches and trainers, how Igor could be so injury prone is on the training staff, and the poor coaching and coming out not ready to compete is on the coaches.

    We need a coach that also names a Captain and more formerly puts a player in charge of other players. Captain By Committee is clearly not working.

  • No, they’re not ready to make the jump to contention, we all see the issues that need to be addressed and I don’t recall anyone really said they were?

  • Chris Kreider appears to be going on his inevitable invisibility run….

    Last 10 games – 9 goals – 3 assists
    Last 5 games – 3 goals – 2 assists

    Chris – What have you done for me lately?

  • This team is ill prepared to compete against the better teams in their division. Too many timid single style finesse type players and not enough tough straight line grinders with attitudes. The coaching has been as dysfunctional as the team itself. On any given moment no one knows what the line combos will be and that leads to a free-for-all. Quinn has no clue what is wrong.

    • “This team is ill prepared to compete against the better teams in their division.”

      Yeah … and that has nothing to do with the fact we’re missing our best player, our best goalie and our best Center is MIA.

  • I do feel that Quinn is quickly losing this team. And I still believe this team is under-conditioned.

    They play well against bad teams. And they buckle at the first sign of adversity against the good ones. The whole world felt them deflate after the SHG, to the point they almost let in another one on the same PP. There was very little difference in their demeanor after to the timeout too. That right there tells me they’re tuning him out.

    They need an experienced NHL coach. Someone who has been through things like this at the NHL level, and can turn it around. This is a fragile group, and when a team is fragile, I look at the coach. I can’t help but think that a guy like Barry Trotz would have this team playing very differently. Hell, Jaques Martin has the defense playing much better this season and we’re throwing #8/#9 d-men out there at times.

  • We have taken a major step backwards this year and big changes need to be made in the leadership of the team. Coach needs to go as does JG and Gordie Clark. They also have too many players who accept this losing like Trouba with his comments from either this morning or yesterday. Those players either need to be moved or they should not be looked upon as the leadership group.

    We allowed Fast to go and signed garbage that actually added up to more than Fast got from the Canes. Howden needs to be sent down as he is just useless at this point. I have been a big defender of his but this season was huge for him and he has failed miserably. Send him down to find his game. This team is also loaded with very soft players who mostly stay on the perimeter and won’t pay the necessary price it takes to score.

    We have some very good young pieces but they need to hear a different voice and they need to be surrounded by players who are tough and passionate or we are just spinning our wheels.

  • the team is not progressing. where is the leadership on and off the ice?
    The fo needs some new blood, the coach has no clue. him and his buddy
    howden need to be gone. they keep drafting the same type of players
    sorry but there soft.

  • Worst 25 game stretch since 2003…..Imagine if the garden was packed with fans..The fire DQ chants would be bouncing right through the garden and off the javits center!

  • Who can answer why Morgan Baron is not up on the varsity yet? He’s a center. Don’t they need help in the middle? He reminds me of the great Jean Beliveaux. Send Howden down. He has had plenty of time to make it and hasn’t. I believe the Rangers are trying to keep the truth about the trade with Tampa Bay from being exposed. 1 of the worst trades in Ranger history…comparable to the Rick Middleton for Ken Hodge swap. DISASTER! Baron is more than ready. Kratsov, Baron, and Panarin’s return should juice up the team. I agree it’s time for Quinn to go back to college coaching.

    • This was a funny post. Answers are as follows: Salary Cap, Barron is playing on the wing right now, Jean Beliveau, eh?! He’s subject to waivers and losing him for nothing, rangers aren’t hiding anything because it’s in plain sight.

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