3 keys for the Rangers to break out of their slump

New York Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette watches the play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at Scotiabank Arena
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

In their last 10 games, the New York Rangers are 3-7-0. They have given up 34 goals and scored 24 for a goal differential of -10. The powerplay has gone 5/29 (17.2), and the penalty kill has given up goals on 8/24 (33.3%) powerplays. After a blazing hot start, the Rangers have cooled off with their offense, defense, and goaltending. What has caused this extended rough stretch?

Having one scoring line is a recipe for disaster

The Rangers have earned their reputation as a middle of the pack 5v5 team over the past two seasons. This year, they have one line that has consistently produced on 5v5 play. The second line, featuring Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, and Alexis Lafrenière, has been the only line that has consistently put up points at 5v5 this season.

Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider have combined for 43 5v5 points. To put that into perspective, Panarin has 34 by himself. Zibanejad hasn’t scored a goal at 5v5 in 12 games (12/23/23 vs. BUF). Kreider scored his second 5v5 goal in 10 games in their 5-2 win over Anaheim on Sunday night.

A revolving door of right wingers this year might have a play in the first line’s recent struggles.

Zibanejad and Kreider heating back up at 5v5 would help push the Rangers back to the powerhouse they were at the beginning of the year.

The Rangers haven’t gotten much scoring from their bottom six either. The third line has combined for 16 goals while the fourth line has combined for 10. If Filip Chytil returns soon, it would be a blessing for the New York Rangers. Taking out Jonny Brodzinski in favor of Chytil will help the Rangers missing scoring depth

The Rangers’ mighty powerplay has fallen

In a recent interview with the Fireside Rangers podcast, Jonny Lazarus of Daily Faceoff said “The Rangers live and die by the powerplay. When the powerplay isn’t clicking, the team isn’t clicking.”

Before Christmas, the New York Rangers had the number one powerplay in the league. Since then, they have gone 10/43 (23.2%) which is good for 17th in the league. They have slowly been overtaken by the Tampa Bay Lightning for first in the league.

Players who thrive on the powerplay such as Zibanejad and Kreider have been unable to find their regular success on the man advantage.

For the last two seasons, Zibanejad has been money at the left dot for the Rangers. When it’s working for him, his one-timer has been a game changer. Before his powerplay goal against Vegas last Thursday, Zibanejad went 12 games without scoring on the powerplay.

Chris Kreider, the best net-front presence in the league, has gone eight games without a powerplay goal (1/4/24 vs CHI). When the Rangers’ two dangerous powerplay forwards are struggling, the entire first powerplay unit follows quickly.

Should Peter Laviolette consider changing the personnel on the units in favor of a more balanced approach?

A massive goaltending issue

Since winning his first Vezina Trophy after the 2021-22 season, Igor Shesterkin has been a perennial candidate each year. Over the past two seasons, the Russian goaltender has been the Rangers’ backbone. This season, however, Shesterkin’s numbers have taken a significant dip.

In 29 games started, Shesterkin has recorded an 18-11 record, a .902 SV%, and a 2.81 GAA. He’s gone through stretches where he looks like his normal self, but then quickly gets into another slump.

While it can be said that the defense in front of Igor hasn’t been great, there are many instances in which he isn’t making the saves he’s supposed to.

High glove side shots have given the Rangers netminder a problem this year. Stephen Valiquette’s post shows Shesterkin has let in 28 out of 82 shots he’s faced that are high glove. It’s concerning seeing this as his glove is one of the best attributes of his game. If the Rangers want to get out of this slump, Shesterkin has to play better.

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