New York – The New York Rangers needed to have a strong start to their season, they needed to take advantage of their 10 game home schedule for the month of October. Instead, they have dropped their 3 of their first 4 games of the season; this time to the St. Louis Blues 3-1. In a league that has a tremendous amount of talent especially in a tough metropolitan division, the Rangers need to regroup quick before falling behind even more.
It only took 15 seconds in tonight’s contest at the worlds most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, for the Rangers to dig out of a whole as defensemen Carl Gunnarsson got the scoring going. There it was, the blueshirts down one within the first minute of the contest. The Rangers composed themselves and Mika Zibanejad got the Rangers on the board with his fifth goal of the season. For the second time in franchise history, a Ranger has registered a goal in each of the team’s first four games of a season (Rick Nash – 2014-15; Mika Zibanejad – 2017-18). It seems as if Zibanejad has taken on the role of top player and has been the Rangers offense in this first four games.
Some positives to look at through these first four games is the power play. New York was 1-for-4 (6:38) on the power play in tonight’s contest. The Rangers have registered at least one power play goal in three of the first four games of the 2017-18 season (5-for-16; 31.3%). The Blueshirts have tallied at least five power play goals in their first four games of a season for the first time since 2005-06 (six). Another being better on face-offs as the Rangers won 32 of 58 faceoffs in tonight’s game (55.2%). The Rangers have won at least 50.0% of faceoffs taken in three of four games this season.
If though, we are talking about face-offs and power plays being the only positives then its worrisome as this Rangers team as mentioned needs to get their game going before falling way behind. Luckily for them, they have only played four games this season. It seems though this loss has ruffled the feathers of the entire coaching staff because tomorrow the Rangers will hold a skills practice tomorrow and broken into three groups. Seems as if what they are trying to say is they need to be held accountable for the poor start to the season.
Alain Vigneault after the game shared his overall thoughts and said, “The start tonight is a turnover right off the hop and the puck ends up in the back of our net. There’s no doubt that in the first two periods we didn’t generate a lot. Yes, they were good defensively but in the third I thought we brought a lot more energy and more willpower. We spent a lot more time in their end and we finally got some pretty good looks but we weren’t able to score.”
When asked about what the Rangers need to do to improve the coach continued, “There’s definitely a lot of room for improvement and I think every one of our players and every coach on our staff will tell you the same thing. You have to take it one day at a time and keep improving our game. The areas of improvement are pretty simple and that’s what we will get back to working on tomorrow.”
Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh talked about the frustration building after a slow start, “It’s frustrating. We’re trying to put together a full game here and we haven’t done that very much at all in any game. It’s getting to a handful of games now where we need to start finding that right from the start. We’re getting some looks there in the third, and they’re not going in. You can’t get frustrated. You’ve got to stick with what’s working and understand the importance of the little plays leading up to those and try to do those consistently throughout the game and get yourself more opportunities.”
Henrik Lundqvist who was in net for the Rangers when asked about if there is urgency went on to say, “We lost a few games here. It’s important that we get the urgency and realize how important the next game is and the game after that. You have to see it as a big game every night. It’s going to be a tight race this year and if you want to be in it, when it comes down to it, you have to ready now even though it’s October. So we are going to have to go to work in the next few days to make sure we play our best game in Columbus.”
Rangers have a few days to get things back in order as they’ll head to Columbus to meet with the Blue Jackets on Friday the 13th – hopefully it won’t be too cursed for them.