Anyone who has ever read any of my articles know that I am the last person to try and hit a panic button early in the season. Yes, the Rangers have hit a rough patch in the ice early on but a little bit of adversity can go a long way in helping a team define itself and find its way to bigger and better things. Remember, the Rangers faced multiple daunting challenges along the way in the playoffs last season only to emerge victorious through the first two rounds and took the Tampa Bay Lightning to game six of the Eastern Conference finals.
Why are the wheels falling off so soon?
You can insert your excuses for why the Rangers have hit a slump right here. Go ahead, there are so many reasons why this team, which started the season with a marquee opening night win against a solid Tampa Bay franchise, have now started feeling like the wheels are falling off right under them.
Rangers captain Jacob Trouba summed up the recent problems with the Rangers’ bench: ” We’re going through a little bit of a stretch here, a little adversity . . .” ( Source: New York Post.) Well, maybe that’s a slight understatement from the team captain but the Rangers offense, once led by the red-hot Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, has cooled off as the Rangers have fired off no less than 87 shots on goal in the last two games and only hit the mark on two of those shots. It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that a two for 87 percentage is way too low to win games.
Running on an 0-2-2 stretch in the last four games, the Rangers offense looks disheveled and disorganized. In the Islanders game, Isles goaltender Ilya Sorokin shut out the previously gunslinging Rangers including shutting them down on no less than 16 high-danger chances. The Rangers special teams have been anything but special in this losing stretch and only produced one goal in 15 power play advantages.
Flip that over to the Islanders who are 25 for 25 on the penalty kill and effectively closed down shop on the Rangers power play top unit. The Rangers special teams have fallen by the wayside during this losing skid with the power play units only converting on a paltry 20.0% of the time while the penalty kill looks weak as well with a 79.2% mark, putting the Blueshirts at a dismal 24th place in the NHL right now.
Is it time to panic or just stay calm and keep the course right now?
Many pundits will have you believe that it’s time to panic and maybe there is room for eyebrows to be raised right now but let’s be real about something – the NHL season is a grind and teams will hit losing streaks now and then. For the Rangers, getting slapped in the face with some adversity challenges right now maybe a good thing and force the Blueshirts to fix early season problems before they fester until the Rangers fall hopelessly to the bottom of the Metropolitan Division. Head coach Gerard Gallant has his work cut out for him in the immediate future and the Rangers top shooters better find their goal-scoring mojo again or 2022-23 could be a long season at Madison Square Garden.