Missing: New York Rangers Offense

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NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello #36 of the New York Rangers reacts to the loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on December 13, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the New York Rangers 2-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Early on in the 2016-17 National Hockey League season, the New York Rangers established themselves as an offensive powerhouse. From October until January, the Blueshirts were explosive, averaging almost three goals a game and putting up four, five, and even six tallies a game. All players were contributing, including a surprising emergence from newcomers Michael Grabner and Jimmy Vesey. As of late however, that deadly Rangers offense has died down and has not nearly produced as much as they used to. 

At one point this season, the Rangers lead all teams in goals scored and goals scored per game. They looked promising and a team to fear. Henrik Lundqvist was struggling in net, but the offense was able to help drive up the score and help erase some of the ones he let up. That is not the case anymore. The Rangers’ days of putting up huge offensive numbers look like they may be over, and if that’s the case, it has come at the worst possible time. With the playoff race heating up big time, especially in the Metropolitan Division, the Rangers need to secure a playoff spot. They went from second in the division to third and now sit in the Wild Card slot. With every other team in the League fighting to keep their seasons alive, scoring no more than two goals a game is unacceptable and simply won’t get the job done. 

Dead Since the Devils

Since February 1, the Rangers have played 16 games. In that span they have gone 10-5-1. Not horrendous, however when looking at the schedule and the numbers produced, inconsistency sticks out. Early in February, the Rangers went on a six game tear, Things looked good, then the New York Islanders knocked them off their streak and since then (Feb. 16), they have gone 5-2-1. When it comes to offense, the Rangers have not scored more than three goals since February 26, when they defeated cross town rival New Jersey Devils 4-3. That came as a surprise to many because before that, they hadn’t scored more than three tallies since the ninth. 

Now compare these numbers to October and November; when the Rangers had ten games where they scored five or more goals, including two, seven goal games. Fasts forward to today, the last time the Rangers have scored five goals in a game was January 19 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

All in all, there has been a significant decrease in the offense of the New York Rangers. Injuries, bad puck luck, and good goalies have all contributed to this problem, but when you mix this lack of goal scoring with the Rangers poor defensive play and weary goaltending, it’s a formula for trouble. 

Never Say Die

But don’t count the Rangers out. Henrik Lundqvist has been improving as of lately and is starting to slowly look like his old self again. If the offense can find their click again, things can turn around. The Blueshirts need their top players to emerge yet again and get back on a consistent scoring pace. And we’re talking about J.T. Miller (48 points), Mats Zuccarello (45 points), Derek Stepan (44 points), and Michael Grabner (36 points, 26 of which have been goals). Out of those guys, Grabner has had zero points in his last five played (also has been injured however), Miller and Zuccarello one point, and Stepan only has had two. 

If these players begin to score again, the Rangers will begin to win. We saw it back in October/November, the Rangers could afford to give up a few goals, as long as their offense out scored the opposition. It may not be the best strategy, but if successful, it leads to wins, and wins lead to points, and points to a better seeding. 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Sure the numbers don’t lie, but if you look at the talent in the roster – the anomaly was clearly in the hot start rather than the subsequent decline. You also seem to brush over the fact that the recent record is good – really good. For a team that everyone was saying was ‘done’ before a puck was dropped, the record this season is better than I think most journos/analysts would have expected. The roster is far from needing the rebuild year many said was coming, merely a trimming of the dead wood and building around the emerging young core.

    There have been injuries and you would always expect inconsistency from a young core, but the performances of Vessey, Skjei, Buch and Ziba have shown a lot of promise. Sure Hank had a slow start but Raanta has stepped in and stepped up – goaltending isn’t the problem – the problem is massively in the d-core and in particular the lack of cap hit worthy performances from Staal and Girardi. Moving one of these contracts would enable some real progress (hey I never thought we would find a taker for Gomez but it happened!).

    No doubt protecting this defence is a big part of the offensive decline.

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