One of the goals for each of us during this Thanksgiving season is to realize what we are truly thankful for and the New York Rangers are certain to give thanks for the end of their west coast road trip. Of course, going 2-1-1 on the road isn’t necessarily a bad road trip but the Blueshirts still cannot find the way to finish a complete 60 minute hockey game.
What did the road trip reveal about the Rangers?
The Rangers this season aren’t an inherently bad team by any stretch of the imagine but their biggest enemy so far has been inconsistency. Hockey is a game played with three 20 minute periods and the Rangers find a way to play well during two of the three periods in each game and then collapse in at least one of those regulation periods. The key to the Rangers’ inconsistency lies in the fact that their flatness never translates to the same period.
One game they will come out strong in the first and then fall flat only to find a way to rally towards the end of each game. The Rangers found a way to turn their fortunes around in two of their last four games with either a way or forcing an overtime period. Last Tuesday night the Rangers found their mojo against a solid Los Angeles Kings’ squad by rallying with two goals from Chris Kreider to grab a 5-3 victory within the last six minutes of the third period. Inspired defensive play and great teamwork helped the Blueshirts pull off a solid road win.
However, the next night in Anaheim the Rangers dropped a 3-2 loss in regulation to the Anaheim Ducks. No offense to the Ducks but they are the worst team in the NHL and Anaheim pulled off their first regulation win this season at the expense of the Rangers.
This inconsistency each night on the part of the Rangers has pushed them down to fifth place in the tough Metro Division with a 10-7-4 record which means that if the season ended today, the Rangers would actually miss the playoffs. The inconsistency battle must be won and the Blueshirts need to find a way to play evenly for all 60 minutes each game or they will be watching the Stanley Cup playoffs next spring from the comfort of their own homes.
Are there any positives for the Rangers right now?
The answer to that question can be seen in the following statistics:
- Igor Shesterkin has a .931 save percentage right now and has blocked 135 out of 145 shots this season. If Shesterkin regains his form from last season, he will be a catalyst for getting the Rangers into the postseason and a candidate to repeat as the Vezina Trophy winner.
- The Rangers average 34.6 shots per game which ranks them 5th in the NHL. The problem with many of these shots is accuracy with a lot of “unlucky” shots hitting the pipes or landing wide. If the Rangers can hone their accuracy while still keeping the shooting pressure up, the offensive barrage each night should pay dividends on the scoreboard.
- The Blueshirts have found a way to get physical this season and lead the NHL with a solid total of 630 hits. The New York Islanders are second in the league with a total of 616 hits. Rangers’ captain leads the team with 71 hits. Being physical and staying physical, along with offensive firepower will help the Rangers wear down opponents as the season moves into its next phases.