That was the word of the night as the New York Rangers tried to explain their 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. While Ryan McDonagh and Derick Brassard were speaking about how well the Avs played, structure was the perfect word to describe what the Rangers lacked.
Their game was messy. Their offense couldn’t find a lane. And there were missed passes and miscues all night long. While part of that is a testament to how well the Avalanche played it is also safe to say the Rangers had an off night.
Games like that happen. We’ll all be able to get over it. But what is disconcerting is how the Rangers defense is playing.
The Rangers defense is a bit off. It’s hard to explain why this is happening since their core players on defense are playing. Yes, Kevin Klein is out with an abdominal strain and will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks, but that doesn’t strike me as the true reason behind their recent play.
I understand that the Rangers were playing back-to-back nights, but this isn’t the first time their defense has shown its weaknesses. Dan Boyle is showing his age; Dan Girardi is getting good at becoming invisible; and Keith Yandle has been pretty average. McDonagh also hasn’t been spectacular and Marc Staal has had trouble covering his man (at least last night). The great play of Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers ability to score timely goals have masked their defensive woes, but those woes aren’t going anywhere. Not unless something is done.
Too many times in the game against Colorado the Rangers defensemen were beat. They let their man get a step ahead of them and that created chances for the Avalanche. They were lucky that Antti Raanta was able to stop most of the Avs attempts.
Yes, the Rangers are known for having active defense, and I believe they still need to play a part in the team’s offensive game for them to continue to succeed, but for some reason, the defensemen are showing that they can’t do both (at the moment).
Every team gets in slumps and on hot streaks. Even though the Rangers still find ways to win some games, I would consider this to be a little bit of a slump mostly because they puck possession stats aren’t stellar and their defense isn’t playing as well as we know it can.
The Rangers need a spark or a jolt. Something to get them going. The past two games alone, both pretty devastating losses, should be a wake up call for the Rangers. Their weaknesses are starting to show and their spot in the Metropolitan Division is starting to slip.
The Rangers defense needs to tighten up and get going, otherwise the rest of December may be a gloomy month for the Blueshirts.