Good process will lead to good results for the Rangers

kaapo kakko

The Rangers have just one point in two games to start the season, despite good process. The world is ending, the sky is falling, Old Testament type stuff, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

All kidding aside, and given the audience here I will be disappointed if you didn’t catch the movie quote, the Rangers haven’t been bad. A common theme on this 13 year old site has been to focus on process. Good process breeds good results in the long term. While the results haven’t been there through 2.44% of the season, the process has been a significant improvement.

Much better forecheck

Much digital ink was spent on the lack of a consistent forecheck by the Rangers under David Quinn. The Rangers didn’t get two men into the offensive zone for pressure, yet managed to be completely passive through the neutral zone as well. This led to backing up at the blue line, and well, you know the rest.

Through two games, the Rangers have developed a steady 2-1-2 forecheck, dropping to a 1-2-2 at times. The consistent piece has been the puck pressure in the offensive zone and through the neutral zone. This has allowed the defensemen to step up at the blue line. This, in turn, creates turnovers.

A more consistent forecheck will lead to:

  • Turnovers and rush chances
  • Less opposing speed through the neutral zone
  • Fewer chances for clean zone entries against
  • Overall better team defense

It’s a complete change that impacts both offense and defense. This is a good process change for the Rangers.

Consistent efforts

As Tyler said this morning, the Rangers have never really been “out of it.” They were down 2-0 yesterday, but came back to get the point. There’s a much more team driven effort to be consistent on the forecheck and in the defensive zone.

The offense will come, that isn’t much of a concern. The fact the Rangers have a fourth line that can cycle and pressure in the offensive zone is a major upgrade from last year. It may not be the 100% skill that people wanted, but being about to generate offense in different ways up and down the lineup is critical to a balanced team and future success.

The Rangers are still adjusting to their new coach, and Gerard Gallant is still learning his lineup. As long as consistent efforts are there, then executing the plan will come.

Still some concerns

As with every team, there are still some concerns. Taking penalties and the penalty kill are the two glaring ones at the moment. Naturally, these are related. The penalty kill saw some turnover and has some new faces, thus this will eventually work itself out. However the penalties are something that need to end.

The Rangers took seven stick penalties (slashing, holding, tripping, etc) in their first two games. Six of them against the Caps. This can be a product of a team learning a new system, as holding and tripping are usually by products of getting beat and trying to recover. Of course, sometimes they are just accidental and happen.

The good news is that the concerns should, in theory, work themselves out after a few months. Remember when Alain Vigneault took over? The Rangers were getting beat 9-2 and 6-0 early on. Then they made a run to the Cup Final. While that is certainly a high bar to meet, this team is better on paper than that one. Good process will lead to good results for the Rangers. Patience is a virtue.