After a defeat, courtesy of newly formed franchise the Vegas Golden Knights, the New York Rangers has a vital break. With the season just over the halfway mark, it’s a time for rest and reflection. With the Metropolitan wild-card playoff spot so competitive, both are vital to enhancing Rangers success. They have improved since their abysmal start (currently 21-18-4), but the Rangers are on a dangerous road to disappointment if they do not address the obvious issues they still have.
New York Rangers Room For Improvement
In what can only be described as a gruelling schedule for the next few weeks. All of the games are against tough teams, four of these, are on the road. There are many aspects the Rangers needs to reevaluate during this time.
The Rangers have had defensive issues for countless seasons, the inability to back up their own goalies is criminal. On the Vegas game alone they left Ondrej Pavelec exposed on four, 2 on 1 rushes, Vegas scored their game-winning goal on one of these.
Was this any surprise???
— All My Sports Teams Have Long Title Droughts (@lachieeet) January 8, 2018
Legendary goalie Henrik Lundqvist has bailed his defence out time and time again. In his last five games, he has saved a punishing 30 plus shots in each of them. This is partly caused by numerous turnovers in their own end. The Rangers have an expected goals against (xGA/60) per sixty minutes of 2.78, that makes them the worst in the league. To highlight this further, The San Jose Sharks, who the Rangers will be playing as part of their western road trip, has a xGA/60 0f 2.4.
Players like Nick Holden are key components to this worrying statistic. He is a prime example of poor defence as his Corsi For Percentage is only 46%. This highlights that at even strength the Rangers will be less likely to have the puck. This contributes to the teams disappointing CF% which is 46.32%, worst in the league bar the Minnesota Wild. The Rangers will have to work on their passing and defensive awareness to reduce turnovers against such strong teams. Because of these defensive issues, it makes it even more difficult for the Rangers to then go on the offensive.
If they cant get it passed the blue line, how are they expected to score? They have the potential with players such as Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, and Michael Grabner to name a few. They have all proved they can get the puck into the net however, they take too long to do so.
Chaotic set up plays, and general low enthusiasm is common until the second period. So far this season, 40 of the Rangers goals have been in the third period. They need to work on their intensity early on to secure the win in regulation.
The Rangers have outscored opponents, 50-34, in game situations when trailing this season. The Blueshirts’ plus-16 goal differential when trailing is tied for the best in the NHL in 2017-18.
— NYR Stats & Info (@NYRStatsInfo) January 4, 2018
Particularly as out of the last ten games, the Rangers have gone into Overtime and/or Shootout. This will be vitally important in their road games against teams such as the Colorado Avalanche. They have a tendency to be quick of the mark and score early in the 1st or 2nd period.
Powerplays Still Need Work
It’s obvious that Rangers need to get more urgency into their game. Their PK% is 83% (5th), the best they have been since 2013-14. However, they just can’t utilize the player advantage on the powerplay. They struggle at times to find time and space to get shots on goal. They have a PP% of 18.52% and have 25 powerplay goals. This is slightly less than the league average. It will need to improve if they want to get the most out of the next few games.
Can The Rangers Improve In Time?
With points so close, the Rangers have to step up their game. It’s not altogether the player’s fault, (there have been unsettling decisions made by the coaching staff) but their lack of winning spirit at times; along with their poor defensive awareness will only lead to disappointment for everyone. They have displayed almost magical moments of hockey this season but their inconsistency is so frustrating. Heres hoping they can take measures to amplify their game and come home with the wins.