The Rangers laid an egg. They lacked flow, crisp puck movement, shooting from the star players sans Artemi Panarin, and sustained offensive zone pressure at 5-on-5. Clunkers happen, so it was only a matter of time that the Rangers would have their first under Peter Laviolette. It’s just a shame it had to be before a long road trip.
The term “scheduled loss” isn’t thrown around too often, but this game had the makings of a classic scheduled loss/trap game. Despite it being a cluster of an effort, there were a few positives from the game.
Jonathan Quick came into the game during the second period after Igor surrendered his 4th goal.He looked good in his season debut, and the timing was rather funny given Dave’s post that morning. There was legitimate concern about him as the backup during the preseason, as he looked bad with many soft goals.
But in relief of Shesterkin, he faced 9 shots and stopped all of them. Looks like the extra work with Benoit Allaire came in handy. He stopped 2 or 3 grade A scoring chances as well, keeping the Rangers in it. It might be time for him to get a start on the upcoming road trip and for Igor to try and reset with some work of his own with Allaire.
The other positive to take away is regarding Panarin, who is shooting a helluva lot more this season. He is leading the team in SOG with 16 through 4 games, and he nearly scored tonight on the power play, but rang the shot off of the crossbar. He’s always had an incredible shot, and with him looking to actually shoot more, it adds another powerful weapon to a potent offense.
He got an assist last night on the only goal of the game as well, so he continues to produce offensively so early into the year. Maybe he can give Mika Zibanejad a point or two on how to shoot, instead of that awfully unselfish pass back to Kaapo Kakko at a bad angle.
As an aside, has anyone seen or heard from Blake Wheeler? It’s only 4 games, that analytically his lines have had some really good metrics. The guy looks slow though. We have joked before tongue-in-cheek that someone would “Biron” and just retire mid-season if things weren’t going well, but could that be someone like Wheeler?
Right now, he looks 2 steps behind the teams they’ve played thus far, and he’s really only generated one good scoring chance so far. He is still a decent bargain at $800K, especially with those metrics, but at some point the goals and points need to come. Maybe the road trip and visiting teams he played more consistently in his days in Winnipeg will rekindle something.
We knew the Rangers would have some growing pains and a learning curve. Last night was a prime example. Live, learn, and move on to the next.