State of the Rangers

That may be the final nail in the Rangers playoff hopes

The Rangers had one of their worst outings in the last two years last night. They not only lost 6-1, but it looked to be the final nail in the coffin in the Rangers playoff hopes this season. It was already a longshot, but the timing of the loss couldn’t have been worse. It was to the Islanders, which put them out of reach. The Bruins won as well, which gives them a six point lead with two games in hand.

Mathematically speaking, the Rangers are still in it. But realistically speaking they aren’t. When the Rangers needed their big guys to step up, they were sloppy. The Rangers needed their veterans to lead the team. Instead they were the major culprits in the defensive lapses.

There is a lot of blame to go around, and everyone’s favorite whipping boys will get the blame. There’s no one person who deserves the blame for last night. They laid an egg. And they did so at the worst possible time.

But that’s what happens in a rebuild. This was never the year for the Rangers to make a run. It was great for them to be relevant 75% into the season. That was not only unexpected, but a joy to watch. The four games against the Devils were a taste of what is to come. This team is for real.

This year wasn’t the year for the Rangers. Next year will be the first year of true contention. The Rangers have so much going for them. The Rangers playoff hopes may have been crushed last night, but the best is yet to come.

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  • Everyone will cry and moan about the coaching failures last night. But this team not making the playoffs is a result of poor play months ago. Not the recent tear they have been on lately and the single dud they put out last night.

    Oh and them not making the playoffs is a result of the teams in front of them being better.

    • “Poor play months ago”—while the team was breaking in a rookie LD, having ADA melt down, dealing with all the initial lineup instability with defensemen, and then dealing with Panarin’s chilling encounter with an attempt to slander him & ruin his career. All against the backdrop of the #1 center being wiped out for a month after covid recovery.

      Then the coaching staff gets sick and physically removed from the team, and the team goes on a run. Blaming anything on this team’s players for this season is a really tough take, as this year’s Rangers have had one of the most chaotic seasons in the team’s history. They’ve done as well as they could, with a coach who can only answer “swagger” to any tactical question asked of him.

      • Tired of discussing former Rangers with you, sorry. ADA’s problems are a matter of public record, dating back to junior hockey and thru 3 separate NHL teams. Panarin was the victim of an orchestrated slander by a foreign government. No similarities at all between the two players’ situations, it’s as false an equivalency as could be made.

        • ADA will never play for the Rangers again. Also not debatable.

          Go make a t-shirt for him instead. You can call him St Anthony—the patron saint of not getting along with your coworkers.

  • At least now quinn has ten games to get players under the age 21 more than 25 seconds of PP time. (wishful thinking i know)

  • But Dave, the four games against the Devils weren’t good. Two of them were, but two of them we barely scraped by. Can’t even hang our hat on that other than it was a four game win streak.

    Having said that, definitely agree that they were fun games, and the team has been fun to watch for a lot of the year. This hurt because the playoffs were close, closer than many expected. Sad, but the group will get better.

    • Ben, the Devils mounted a comeback on one of the top teams and almost tied, scoring 6 goals.

      Calling them an AHL team as some have is ridiculous.

  • The thats what happens in a rebuild excuse is pathetic. It wasn’t the rookies who sucked last night, it was the veterans, particularly the top 2 forward lines. As far as winning and losing, this team underachieved this season.

    If the Vegas Knights can make it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals in their inaugural season, this club with all the talent it has , should he able to make the playoffs. This franchise took a major step backwards this season.

    • Not sure about a step backwards, but we should have been a playoff team. Zibby’s illness, Panarin’s absence and DQ’s poor in-game management doomed us. We have 3 young (supposed) superstars, who do not shine every night. Time to get Claude Julien behind the bench.

    • If talent underachieves, you look at the coach. If Barry Trotz continually takes the Rangers to the woodshed, you look at the Rangers’ coach. But to suggest that the Rangers of this season “took a step back” is laughable. Their points percentage at this point in the season is better, and the defense is better. there’s no 24-team playoff this year, that’s the only reason the Rangers were a “playoff” team last year.

      Comparing any team to Vegas is absurd. They started building a roster with no concerns about term and a $0 payroll. But if you really must make a poor comparison between NYR and Vegas, look at the difference in coaching once again. Gallant and DeBoer are flat-out better coaches than David Quinn—their NHL resumes back that up.

      That’s why it’s for the best that this team doesn’t make the playoffs this season. This coach must go. A playoff appearance would’ve made Quinn look better than he is.

      • We would be a playoff team if we only played Ottawa, LA, Buffalo, Anaheim, and Detroit all season long also. But that is not reality.

        Every team has expectations on them. We play in a tough the division but I would argue it is not the toughest. Most of our division foes have gotten older and less talented. It was a realistic expectation to be a playoff team this year.

        We just didn’t meet our expectations for the year. And something has to change. Whether we fire the coach or trade away major team assets this offseason. Who knows the right answer? We are 4 years into this rebuild and while I agree the future is brighter, we are no closer to being a real contender then the previous 3 seasons.

        But to say we would be a playoff team in another division is just another excuse. In a long line of an excuse filled season.

  • Do not believe for 1 second that DQ is throwing in the towel. Look for the same team to dress, absent of a replacement for Trouba. Thinking Georgi gets the start in net too.

    This is when the coach and front office realizes that you cannot win with 2 stacked lines. Spread the scorers out. Put Buch and Kreider with Chytil. Put LaFren and Kakko with Zibby. Let Kravtsov play on the wing with Panarin and Strome. Let Blackwell/Rooney/Gauthier try the 4th line. Be hard to defend!

  • The Islanders are a very good team, an the Rangers are a very young team. We lost, an we are not going to win every game left on the schedule either. I am aware it has hurt the playoff chance , but we have turned the corner much sooner then I thought. We are still in REBUILD MODE at this point.

  • Very disappointing lose. That said. If we were in any other division we are in the playoffs at the moment. The fact we have been pushing for a playoff spot is a positive.(in arguably the best division in the league) It was always a rebuilding/development year. When I compare us to other rebuilding teams like NJ, Ottawa, Buffalo and LA, we’re in pretty good shape, In spite of everything that has happened this year. I’m disappointed with last nights showing but not discouraged with the overall rebuild process. The team has flaws. We all know that. The future still looks very bright.

  • It is a tough division. The Rangers are a young team playing three rookies regularly. Barry Trotz is an experienced old hand in the NHL. David Quinn is still learning. Hey, the Rangers beat the Isles a couple of times this season anyway. I am not going to get real down on the team. I never expected playoffs though it would have been nice. They do need to keep their defensive effort up at all times and need to adjust better in-game too.

  • I agree with everything you said except Gauthier with Panarin. Gauthier doesn’t belong there. Strome and Blackwell aren’t players that can take the load away from Panarin when he’s double teamed and use their skill to take advantage of the open space. That’s the issue. There needs to be toughness in the lineup, but Gauthier with Panarin isn’t the answer.

  • These are all good posts. I have been saying ( writing it) for some time. Play the kids; Play fast, hard on puck hockey; make mistakes at full speed. Learn. Distill from this season who are growing and who is not. Then tune for next year. That means adding a star C in a trade; and selectively adding 1-2 veterans who have grit and a little bit of anger to a. protect people b. show the kids when bad things happen you need to respond and sometimes that is with harder play and more aggressiveness…..and sometimes when someone punches you in the face you hit them back in the mouth, two times.

  • The glass is half full, this young group definitely has a bright future. But the team needs to add more grit and sandpaper type players. They are too small, soft and easy to play against. They are more suited for the European league. Very reminiscent of the Maple Leaf rebuild, but they too realized they would constantly get beat by the tougher teams, thus they added Morneau & Thornton. They also fired their coach, The Rangers need to do the same.

    • Hey Bobby, good to see you!

      The Rangers are not small. They have a lot of big boys now. But, I agree that there is not enough sandpaper in the lineup. When ADA and Lemieux were with the team they were two of the smaller guys, but they were usually the only ones other than Brendan Smith who would mix it up when necessary. Trouba and Kreider and Lindgren will dole out hits and take the body. They need more of that.

      They don’t need a goon, but they need to their big kids to play physically, to finish their checks, and not let physical insults to their goalies and other teammates go unanswered.

  • We still have games against the Isles and Bruins. We were not going to win this thing unless we got some help. So far, the Bruins keep winning, so all we can do is play hard and try to win every remaining game.

  • “I still read many of better posts suggesting that there is nothing wrong with having Strome and Chytil at center.”

    What did Chytil have to do with them losing last night? The 3rd line was the 2nd best line on the ice last night. This loss squarely falls on the top 2 lines trying to play the same way they play against a poorly structured team with a porous defense.

    • Yes RFF, I can remember that the 3rd line held their own against the Islanders. A “wash” against a good team is an acceptable result — they weren’t on the ice for any goals and the 4th line was on for one goal FOR, none against. Acceptable results, especially considering their ages. This is what I want to see — if you’re not scoring, at least don’t get scored on. This loss was 100% on the 1st two lines — bringing Chytil up seems pointless in this specific case.

      There are times you need to ride your horses hard … but not every time, especially with a compressed schedule like we’re seeing this year. There’s a lot to whine and complain about when it comes to DQ (there are some positives too), time management is my particular pet issue. He shortens the bench early, he “loses” players on the bench … he’s not playing the long game.

      • You misinterpreted what I said — I wasn’t talking about you whining … I was just stating that there’s a lot to whine and complain about DQ, I was being serious — and that my pet issue with him is his time management (one of the things we could whine and complain about. Whining is fine, when there’s something to actually whine about — it isn’t always a negative.

        Re: the 3rd line, I’m fine with their performance last night. They did nothing to win the game, they did nothing to lose the game — that’s acceptable. They had no hand in the loss — if the 1st and 2nd line had played that way as well (along with their defensive pairings) we would have won the game 1-0 thanks to the 4th line.

  • The best is yet to come depends on what is done during the off-season. We still have holes to fill on D, bottom six and regardless of this,” the league has gone away from fisticuffs thing”… we need a few bruisers that can hit, intimidate, protect and play hockey… I believe that Schneider will be a huge punishing asset on the D end, but we also need another bruising forward… Face-off possession has improved, but not where we should be….Too much fanciness…. way too much passing as well so there is still work to be done finish and polish our team.

  • Coming next year – Jack Eichel centering Lafren and Kakko. You heard it here.
    This immediately gives us 3rd line credibility. What you say, you don’t put JE on a 3rd line? Sorry, but on the NYR you do.
    You can leave KLB alone, add Kravtsov to the 2nd line and now you have some depth.

  • totally disagree with the notion that this was not the year to contend, that the Rangers had three rookies blah blah blah. In fact, two of those rookies were surely on almost every short list of serious Calder candidates. Hopefully Shesterkin will still win it. And the third guy Miller has held up his end.

    We can disagree about the performance and future of Lafreniere. However, there can be no disagreement about how nearly unprecedentedly awful his production has been. And he is not young by any means. Of the sixteen forwards taken #1 overall this century, all have played immediately – 7, including Hughes, at 18, 8, including Laf, at 19 and Ovechkin at 20. Most did not have the immediate success of Crosby and Ovechkin with 100 points in a rookie season. However, all put up at least 0.5 points per game except the younger Hughes and Laf. In fact, Nail Yakupov, almost identical in age to Lafreniere, scored 31 points in 48 games.

    Whether or not Alexis Lafreniere someday enters the Hall of Fame is not yet decided, but I doubt anyone can honestly say that they were not disappointed by what he accomplished this season.

    • Your axe to grind with Lafreniére is as uninformed as it is ignorant. No first overall choice in the last 22 years has gotten less ice time or power play time. In an 82-game season Lafreniére would’ve likely hit 35-40 points, which would’ve been fine with his limited ice time.

      Not surprising at all though—you’re the guy who calls Shesterkin the “best goalie of all time” after 30 NHL starts, and misunderstands statistics enough to equate Chytil’s production with Alex Ovechkin’s. You’re also the guy who said NYR should reacquire Marc Staal.

      • Contrast Alexis Lafreniere (born Oct 11) and Nail Yakupov (born Oct 6). Both were 19 yr old rookies in shortened seasons which began in January.

        Both were PP2 players. Yakupov had a shade under two hours PP time while Lafreniere had a little less than one hour PP time. So Yakupov had a shade more than twice the PP time. Yakupov had 10 PP points and was on the ice for 14 PP goals and one shortie. Lafreniere has 0 PP points and was on the ice for one PP goal and two shorties.

        At even strength, Yakupov played a few seconds less per game than Lafreniere. He netted 21 ES points in 48 games as opposed to 14 in 46 games. +/- numbers are about the same, but to be fair Yakupov played on a weaker team.


        To be clear, Nail Yakupov’s great shortcoming was not his rookie year. In fact, he isn’t a bad hockey player (still playing in the KHL). His shortcoming was that he never really got any better. And we expect Lafreniere to get better.

        HOWEVER, I simply refuse to believe that anyone here expected so little production from him. By another measure, look twenty years into the future and rank the current Rangers by their career numbers. My guess is that, had this exercise been performed on Jan 1, Panarin would have been most people’s #1 and still would be. However, I believe the consensus #2 at the start of the year would have been Lafreniere and I suspect on many lists he has fallen below Fox, Shesterkin, and in some cases even Kravtsov or Kakko or even Buchnevich.

        • I don’t know whether or not you are right, but certainly a bad attitude often goes hand in hand with lack of growth.

          However, I don’t agree that anything has changed. I still think a supremely kid with a bad attitude can still get drafted very high.

          • sorry, somehow I read in NFL as in NHL today – not sure how. I totally agree with you.

  • I think there is a persistent lineup problem related to the failure to appreciate the bell curve. NHL players are on the far left in ability and as you move to the right players naturally get closer and closer together. If you try to choose the best Ranger lineup, I think we all agree that it is Shesterkin (G), Fox (RD), Lindgren (LD), Panarin (LW), Zibanejad (C), Buchnevich (RW). And there is a substantial gap between each of these and the second best at the position. The gap between second and third is smaller at each position. And from third to fourth it typically gets smaller yet.

    However, going further down the list, we IMAGINE a big gap between NHL and AHL players. There is no reason why a gap should occur. AT center, why should there be a gap between Brett Howden (worst Ranger center) and Jonny Brodzinski (best Pack center) or, on defense, between Bitetto and Darren Raddysh. Management simply classify two of these guys as AHLers and so not worthy of consideration. Usually it is not that important, but sometimes by imagining a gulf between two players, you misrank badly and discard a Ryan Graves.

    Presently of interest to me are Bitetto and Raddysh. Bitetto is an established bad NHL defenseman. Raddysh has proven himself as a successful right defenseman in Hartford. Both know the Ranger systems. Bitetto has been awful the last two games. Bitetto has played RD, but is better suited to the left while Raddysh is truly a RD.

    Yet if Trouba cannot play in the next game, the Rangers will most likely dress Bitetto as third pair RD. This simply makes no sense whatsoever. And this summer Raddysh will leave as a free agent. And likely it will be no great loss. However, that is something the Rangers think, not something they know.

    If the Rangers don’t use Bitetto on the right, they will still avoid Raddysh, using Hajek, who is neither terribly good or experienced on the right side.

    JFTR, personally I’d give Jones-Raddysh a shot. It may not be the best possible pairing, but it is the only pairing that might actually be good.

  • The loss of Trouba was a big momentum swing. The Isles upped the physical play after he went out. And can anyone explain to me how the hell the NHL counts hit stats now? The line was Rangers: 22 hits, Isles: 13 hits. I think there were that many in the first two periods.

  • There are an awful lot of positives to take away from this year. The Cytl, L’frnier, Kakko chemistry was awesome, Kravtsov is legit. K’dre Miller a pleasant surprise, the continuing development of a superstar D in Fox and the goalies.

    That being said, this team underachieved badly. They had a terrible start looking unready for the season after looking unprepared for the playoffs in the summer and as bad a start as they had it was eclipsed by the epic fail of a playoff push.

    It’s still a young and incredibly talented team on paper, but they don’t seem to be learning how win close games or how to finish off an opponent when you have them on the ropes like they did with NJ.

    Who wants to bet Quinn gets fired? I’ll give 10:1 and mortgage the house.

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