After making the play-in round of last year’s playoffs, winning the NHL draft lottery, and selecting Alexis Lafreniere, many thought that the New York Rangers should be making a run at the playoffs. After losing their last three games and seeing their season record fall to 4-6-3, many are thinking that the Rangers are underachieving through their first 13 games.
While the Rangers are not happy with their play, there are many factors in play as to why this year’s Blueshirts are just four points behind the Islanders for the last playoff spot.
That is really not that far away, even in a 56 game season.
The biggest thing to remember is that the average age of a player on the Rangers’ active roster this season is 25.6 years old, which is the youngest in the NHL. The Rangers have seven players 22 years old or younger on their active roster (Chytil, Fox, Howden, Kakko, Lafrenière, Lindgren, and Miller), and the Blueshirts have had more players who are 22 years old or younger play at least one game this season than any other NHL team.
Sure it is disappointing to see the overall number one draft pick have only one goal for one point on the season. Especially when one sees another rookie like Pius Suter of the Chicago Blackhawks not only get his first NHL goal recently but ended that game on January 23 against the Red Wings with a hat trick. Suter currently leads all rookies in scoring with 9 points.
Yes, it is frustrating to see that 40 other NHL rookies have more points than their overall number one pick.
But Lafreniere’s issues are just one of many other issues that the Rangers are having this year.
Outside of Artemi Panarin, many other Rangers are struggling. Mika Zibanejad has one goal in 13 games. Kaapo Kakko two in 12, Pavel Buchnevich one in his past 11. Players in the bottom six are also struggling such as Phil Di Giuseppe with no goals in 12, Brett Howden none in 13, Brendan Lemieux one in 12. Chris Kreider’s has four goals, but no assists.
After Friday night’s loss, head coach David Quinn summed his team’s frustrations in his post-game Zoom conference when he said “We pass when we should shoot and we shoot when we should pass.”
However, with all of the issues that the Rangers have had, there is still a silver lining that Quinn also mentioned in his post-game Zoom conference. “These games are going to be so valuable for our young players moving forward,” Quinn said. “Like I said, you can learn an awful lot from a team (Boston) like that. You’ve got to pay attention to teams that have sustained success for as long as they have. We’re trying to get to the level of the Bergerons and the Marchands and the Pastrnaks, the Krejcis.… These guys have been competing for Stanley Cup championships for a long time, close to a decade.
“It’s a great experience for our players. But at the end of the day, we’re not here for great experiences. We’re here to win hockey games and these are two hockey games we feel like we could have won.”
It is not like the Rangers have been blown out in the games they lost. Eleven of the Rangers’ 13 games have been decided by two goals or fewer, eight of those by one goal.
At some point, a young and talented team should be able to turn this around and start winning these one-goal games.
The Rangers and their fans hope this happens sooner rather than later. But make no mistake about it, this will happen at some point in the future.