Following the overtime defeat to the Pens, Chris Kreider perfectly summed up why the Rangers lost. Hint: It had to do with the style they rely too much on. A style that isn’t conducive to winning hockey games.
“That’s just winning hockey. No team in the league can just throw their sticks out there and play east-west and try to skill their way to wins. You gotta go north at some point. There’s not enough space, there’s not enough time. You gotta make their D turn. You gotta make them go 200 feet. [Instead], we’re turning pucks over the lines, turning pucks over in the neutral zone, not making them dig pucks out of corners.”
Until they become harder to play against by adjusting to a North/South style over the all too predictable East/West crap that leads to lazy turnovers and makes it easier on opponents to come back, it won’t matter who’s in net. At some point, the light switch has to go off.
This is exactly how they played under Alain Vigneault towards the end, leaving Henrik Lundqvist out to dry. It’s been similar under David Quinn. The structure isn’t always there. Like Kreider also noted, they play well in spurts. Hardly enough consistency to be successful.
As for the narrative that it’s all the goalies’ fault for the 2-4-2 start, Lundqvist used to give up the same bad goals his last few years. That’s why they made the switch to Igor Shestyorkin with Alex Georgiev backing up last year.
Anyone who thinks it’s easy to replace a great goalie when there are higher expectations, doesn’t get sports. There was always going to be more pressure this time for both netminders.
I disagree with Quinn on rotating each. It’s not working. He has to go with one player and ride them. It should be Shestyorkin after the numbers he put up in the first dozen starts of his NHL career. He’s supposed to be the heir apparent. Why he didn’t start Saturday remains strange.
With a poor defense that’s struggling, it doesn’t make things any easier. Neither do all the glaring mistakes this team makes at inopportune times. It’s too early to judge the goalie situation. They both need more time along with the team to gel. Only a handful of players have been good.
There also is the issue of Mika Zibanejad. He’s been invisible in these games. With only one goal on the power play and numerous turnovers and lost face-offs like the one to Sidney Crosby that led to the Jake Guentzel tying goal, he needs to be much better.
Either something is wrong or he hasn’t found his rhythm yet. Until Zibanejad gets back on track, the center ice position poses a problem for the Rangers. They miss Filip Chytil.
Kreider is correct about how they have to play. Sometimes, less is more. Making the simple and smart plays matter.