How the New York Rangers lost to a team who has not played in two weeks

New York Rangers, Igor Shesterkin
Sep 18, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Brett Seney (43) shoots on goal against New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) and goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Sarah Stier-USA TODAY Sports

There is no other way the New York Rangers can describe their 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils except to realize that it was disappointing and somewhat embarrassing. Not only did they lose their fourth straight game, but they also lost to a team that has not played a game since January 31.

Due to multiple players being placed on the COVID-19 list, the Devils went 15 days without playing a game. Monday was the team’s only full practice since they were shut down on January 31. So how do the Rangers lose to a team in this situation?

For starters, they allowed goals by three Devils who have a combined five career NHL goals.

Some may point to the fact that the Rangers were without Filip Chytil, Artemi Panarin, and K’Andre Miller, and lost Jacob Trouba in the third period due to an upper-body injury. However, the Devils were also without Nico Hischier, Travis Zajac, Nikita Gusev, and Dmitry Kulikov.

Before we dive into some of the other details, we will start by letting the Rangers explain what they think the issues were.

The New York Rangers react to the loss

After the game, Mika Zibanejad talked in his Zoom conference call about the team’s loss, especially giving up the winning goals in the third period. “I don’t think that for the whole game, we did not get up to the level of play we needed to. We had chances but it was not good enough for over sixty minutes. We are lacking a little bit of desperation, to be honest with you.”

A very frustrated Chris Kreider talked in his post-game Zoom conference about how the Devils outworked and outhustled the Rangers, especially in the first period. “That’s a team that is coming off a two-week break. I realize that they were probably pretty excited to getting back to hockey but that is an unacceptable start. For the majority of the game, they outhit us and outskated, and scored more battles. They flat out wanted it more and it is unacceptable.”

Later on, Kreider talked about the fact that the Rangers did not get a single chance on the power-play.

“It’s something that we have talked about and have been working on for the past couple of days,” Kreider said. “Honestly, it is part of the things I said earlier. Waiting to skate and not being physical, losing battles. There were obviously some shifts where we were buzzing in the offensive zone but obviously, it is not enough to go a full 60 minutes without drawing a power-play. That to me screams that we are not doing the right things away from the puck to support each other and to draw penalties.”

The New York Rangers wasted a solid effort from Colin Blackwell

Colin Blackwell and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the Rangers and each of the goals was significant for different reasons.

For Buchnevich, he ended a somewhat long goal drought with his goal that tied the game late in the second period. After the goal, Buchnevich celebrated by “throwing the monkey off his back”, signifying the frustration that he felt by his lack of scoring after a long period of time.

Blackwell opened the scoring for the Rangers, firing in a shot past Devil’s goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, after getting a nice pass from Brett Howden.

With that goal, Blackwell has tallied a point in four of six games with the Rangers (two goals, two assists). He has also registered nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last 12 NHL games.

The Rangers are getting strong production from workhorse players like Blackwell and Phil Di Guiseppe, but seem to be lacking some of that consistent from some of the skill players.

This is something that head coach David Quinn addressed in his post-game Zoom conference by saying “We will be talking about all this before practice, during practice, and after practice tomorrow.”

With their 14th game being played, the Rangers have reached the 1/4 mark of their 56 game season. There is still time to turn things around, but it needs to happen quickly if the Rangers want to make a run at the playoffs.

The Rangers will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday to take on the Flyers.