New York Rangers: “Rest” Doesn’t Help End Losing Streak

New York Rangers, Brad Skjei
Dec 20, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (76) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with teammates during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers had a theory: That a three-day break after a long West Coast trip may rejuvenate their team. In 1985, The Coca-Cola Company decided to replace its traditional product with “New Coke.”  Neither theory worked. New Coke was widely criticized and was eventually dumped. On Friday night, the Rangers were trounced 6-3 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

A Tiring West Coast Trip didn’t end well for the New York Rangers

In reality, the Rangers did need a bit of a break.  The Rangers started December having played eight games in 11 days.  After a 4-1 loss to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 2. They then had a back-to-back, in Columbus and at home against the Canadiens, before leaving on the weeklong four-game trip out west. That trip went from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, then north to San Jose, and back south to Anaheim for a Saturday afternoon game.  After flying back home, they played the Nashville  Predators in the Garden on Monday, losing 5-2.  I am tired just writing about it. Following a day off Tuesday, the team returned to the ice for a light practice Wednesday with five players taking maintenance days: defensemen Marc Staal and Tony DeAngelo, and forwards Ryan Strome, Artemi Panarin, and Pavel Buchnevich.  Seeing how this week played out, one would think that the Blueshirts would be ready to go on Friday night against the Leafs. That did not happen.

A clunker of a game

The thought was that goaltender Alexandar Georgiev would be the perfect man in the net against the Leafs, as when he stopped 99 out of their 101 shots last season. Unfortunately, Georgiev allowed a season-high six goals in last night’s debacle. This, of course, comes after I referred to him as “red hot” in a recent article.  But there is plenty of blame to go around.  The Rangers were outshot 40-22 and gave the puck away 23 times. They went 0-for-3 on the power play, extending their streak to nine man-advantage opportunities without a goal. Toronto nabbed 12 takeaways.  In his post-game press conference, Head Coach David Quinn stressed “a need to pay more attention to detail” for his young team.

The schedule ahead is also difficult

Friday’s loss is followed by a back-to-back, starting with a  Sunday matinee at home against the Ducks and then heading to  Philadelphia Monday night. The Rangers will get another break with the league-wide three-day dark period for Christmas. They come out of that with another back-to-back, Friday at home against the Hurricanes then in Toronto on Saturday, which leads right into their New Year’s trip, this time going through western Canada starting in Edmonton.  Coach Quinn and the young Rangers will be challenged more than ever as they try to end this three-game losing streak.