No need to worry, the Rangers are much better than their .500 record

Bobby Bevilacqua


Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Through four games this season, the Rangers are doing fine with a 2-2-0 record. Although there was a lot of hype built up around the forwards and the youth movement GM Jeff Gorton seems to be going for, given the state of the defense this is a pretty good start.

While it’s only been four games and things can change in a flash, there should be a sense of confidence throughout the locker room and among the fans. I wasn’t expecting to have this much fun watching the Rangers this year, but from what I’ve seen so far, they have me really excited for not only the future, but seeing how far this forward group can carry the team this season.

So far, the Rangers have scored 15 goals in four games this season, and that was with the team scoring just one two days ago against the Red Wings. The 12 goals allowed is a little higher than many would have hoped for, but that was somewhat expected when you have Nick Holden as your top pairing defenseman playing on his offside.

The Rangers two losses have come in games that they easily could have won if they didn’t run into great goaltending and if they had a bit more puck luck. The Rangers lost to the Blues when Carter Hutton made 33 saves, 15 coming in the third period. And Jimmy Howard was absolutely fantastic on Wednesday, stopping 32 shots, including three breakaways. The Rangers outshot those teams by a combined 68-36, yet have been outscored 5-3 in those games.

Over the course of every season you are going to have those games where you have shots hit the post, or bounce on a player, or the other goalie stands on his head and steals a game. They usually don’t happen in two of the first four games, but that’s okay. Things will balance out over the course of the season.

The biggest reason for positivity is the offense and the forward group. The 13 forwards that the Rangers are carrying right now are absolutely fantastic. All four lines have shown flashes, Josh Jooris has come in and played a strong two games, and every line is scoring, from the first to the fourth. And that’s something completely new.

What’s really impressive is how quickly lines have shown considerable chemistry growth. Kreider, Zibanejad and Buchnevich/Nash look like they’ve played together for a few years, not a few games. Jimmy Vesey could have four or five goals if things went his way, and he looks very comfortable on the top line. And the depth guys like Michael Grabner and Brandon Pirri have been very helpful and have played well so far.

Sidenote; how on earth did the Rangers get Zibanejad for Derick Brassard, AND get a second round pick with it. Zibanejad has looked great so far and the Rangers need to sign him to a long term deal after this season.

It’s also refreshing to see a Rangers team with so many shooters on the team. Having guys who aren’t afraid to fling the puck on net has made the offense dynamic when combined with all of the playmakers in the lineup. It’s a good sign and this team looks like they can win any given game simply by outscoring their opponents. This offense has the chance to be really, really good.

If there’s one aspect of the offense that can be worked on, it’s the power play. The Rangers have looked far better on the man advantage than they did last season, with Adam Clendening, Brandon Pirri and an improved Ryan McDonagh running the point and guys like Kreider, Z-bad and others down low. More of their shots need to hit the net and they need to be a bit more careful and fluid with their passes, because the power play has been a bit sloppy.

The defense is another story, but it can be okay if Vigneault makes the right pairings and uses his defenseman correctly. Marc Staal actually looks good so far and might be able to be counted on for this season. Dan Girardi, not so much. But with a top pairing of McDonagh and Klein, and Adam Clendening (68% Corsi For so far) and Marc Staal on the second pair, this team might be alright.

Last season, we saw a Rangers team that started 16-3-2 despite playing awful hockey, relying on astronomically high shooting percentages and otherworldly performances from Henrik Lundqvist. This year, they’re 2-2 despite being the exact opposite happening, which is a god thing.

The Rangers are going to win a lot more games this year if they keep playing like this and iron out some issues on the defensive side. The best way to word it was what Blueshirt Banter used for their headline; trust the process, not the result.

Posted on October 21, 2016, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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