The New York Rangers glittering off-season moves have proven unimpressive throughout the first three games of regular season. Now, with even more changes emerging, the Blueshirts future is anything but certain.
New York Rangers Roster Rocked By Early Disappointment
Only three games into the regular season and Alain Vigneault and the Rangers coaching staff are running into major snags. The Rangers lost their home opener to the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 then followed that up with an 8-5 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite their 2-0 shutout win against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, the Rangers are clearly desperate to change their chemistry.
The Young Gun is Gone
Filip Chytil, who made headlines for his appearance on the Rangers opening night roster, missed the mark for the Rangers. Chytil was sent down to the Hartford Wolf Pack today with an extremely short debut for the Rangers. 12 minutes and 39 seconds to be exact. The Czech-native was a scratch for Sundays game, foreshadowing his unfortunate fate. However, he is still young and just needs time to develop. Vigneault shouldn’t have kept him after training camp is the bottom line. Vinni Littieri, another shining star from training camp, should have joined the squad and Chytil should have stayed behind, sparing him this ugly bruise to his confidence.
Cracknell Comes to Town
In the wake of losing Chytil, the Rangers also made the call to claim Adam Cracknell of waivers from the Dallas Stars. Cracknell netted 10 goals and assisted on six with the Stars last season throughout 69 games. He has bounced all over the NHL, playing a smattering of games before moving on to the next. Cracknell’s addition is a desperate move for New York as they look to solve their emerging chemistry issues. He’ll likely be on the right wing with David Desharnais centering and Paul Carey on the left. Cracknell has earned 43 points in 204 career NHL games.
Dilemmas on Defense
Another interesting move made this morning was Vigneault’s decision to bench Brendan Smith and Anthony DeAngelo for tonight’s game in favor of Nick Holden and Steven Kampfer. All of Rangerstown cringed upon the announcement as their play, especially Holden’s, has been questionable at best. Holden has been inconsistent from the get go, turning over pucks left and right, seen again in Sunday’s contest against the Canadiens. Keeping him in play will not bode well for Henrik Lundqvist who is still finding his own footing as October continues.
What’s more surprising is Smith and DeAngelo’s benching tonight, especially considering the two were hot stories this off-season. Smith was re-signed to a four-year, $17.4 million dollar contract, seemingly solidifying him as a top four defenseman for the Blueshirts. Vigneault was not pleased with his play against the Maple Leafs, as he was on ice for one of their powerplay tallies, nor was he pleased with DeAngelo. Smith is a veteran defenseman, playing six season with the Detroit Red Wings before joining the Rangers last year. If this isn’t a wake up call for him, nothing will be.
DeAngelo’s benching also raises eyebrows considering he was one piece of the blockbuster trade of Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes. Stepan had been the Rangers number one center throughout the majority of his Rangers career. Raanta was clearly an elite goaltender that posed quite a threat to King Henrik himself. Raanta’s play with the Coyotes, spare an early injury, has been extremely high caliber. He let in a lone goal against the Vegas Golden Knights on 42 shots. Impressive, despite the ultimate loss. Honestly, the Rangers made a grave mistake letting Raanta go. He’s in his prime and the Rangers goaltending is in questionable condition as this season stands.
Long Live the King
Stepping onto the ice for his 13th season with the New York Rangers, Lundqvist was expecting a lot of himself, and so were fans. Unfortunately, the Lundqvist seen throughout the first two games is a shadow of his former self. With questionable tracking of the puck, uneasiness in his crease and a visible temper, the King was unsteady. After being pulled after letting in five goals on 17 shots, Lundqvist is off to a bad start.
Despite earning a shutout against the Canadiens on Sunday, two goals did sneak by him and were discredited due to goaltender interference and a kicking motion. That stroke of luck for Lundqvist may have served as a confidence booster but it doesn’t erase the looming questions for “the guy” as he has been described by Vigneault. Lundqvist saw one of his worst seasons to date in 2016-17, playing second fiddle to Raanta on more than one occasion. Hopes are that Lundqvist can pull it together for the rest of 2017-18, but his future play is not looking promising.