Call all NY Rangers leaders, all five players with an ‘A’ or a ‘C’, it’s time to step up. The Rangers have been treading water, playing .500 hockey, playing down to their opponents, and uncharacteristically blowing leads in the third period. This is something last year’s team, as flawed as they were, would never have done. On paper, this team is better than last year’s, at least pre-deadline. But they certainly haven’t played like it.
NY Rangers leaders are not doing their jobs
You’ll have to excuse the rant, but I believe it is warranted after the embarrassment that was yesterday’s game against Edmonton. It is easy to chalk up the slow start to poor PDO (goaltending and SH%), since the Rangers simply weren’t getting any bounces and the goaltending had a slow start. But now, especially over the last ten games, that has evened out.
The shooting percentage, at least at even strength, has evened out over the last ten game. Igor Shesterkin has started to be what we expect, which is about a .925 SV% goaltender. But the Rangers can’t seem to get out of their own way. Last night’s blown lead was hopefully rock bottom for this team, but for it to be rock bottom, the NY Rangers leaders need to get their proverbial stuff in order.
Not once this season has Jacob Trouba, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Artemiy Panarin, or Barclay Goodrow taken this team and, at least visibly to us in the public, led them, calmed them, or even just steadied them on the ice. They can say what they want in interviews and in the locker room, but they need to step up on the ice. Collectively, this group is half the salary cap, and while the counting stats are there, they’ve been bland and vanilla on the ice.
Gerard Gallant’s hands off approach
We know Gerard Gallant is a hands off coach. In fact, most NHL coaches don’t really like to get involved in the locker room unless they feel it is absolutely necessary. Gallant again is no different, and that is fine. But Gallant is also a leader on this team, as the head coach, and perhaps it is time he get involved.
We will get into in-game tactics like being allergic to timeouts at another time, and trust me there’s a lot to unpack there. But as one of the NY Rangers leaders, he can’t be happy with the process from the loss to the Oilers, and he certainly can’t be happy that this team routinely blows leads in the third period.
And no, this is not because the Rangers traded Ryan Reaves earlier in the week, since this has been a problem all season. And it also has nothing to do with Ryan Strome leaving, or at least it shouldn’t, since one player should not dictate a team’s confidence levels. Instead, this is about a team that feels defeated if something goes wrong. A bad bounce. A goal against. Or perhaps a teammate getting hurt.
The NY Rangers leaders are absent and too quiet for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations to start this season. It’s put up or shut up time for those guys with letters. It’s apparently the new cool thing to focus on Jacob Trouba since he has the ‘C’, but remember the other four have leadership roles too, with many calling for Kreider or Zibanejad to be captain. The team would be in the same spot with a different captain or no captain at all.
There is no killer instinct, and that is on all of the NY Rangers leaders. The Rangers are nothing short of an embarrassing underachievement thus far, and it’s on the five players with letters to fix that.