The New York Rangers look for consistency early this season, with the Blueshirts alternating wins and losses for the first five games.
Two different New York Rangers teams have played in the five games this season.
The Rangers looked confident and sharp, winning contests against Buffalo, Arizona, and Seattle.
Then there is the team that played with miscues, lousy play, and some ugly hockey with losses to Columbus and Nashville.
Consistency is crucial in the NHL, and this Blushirt team needs to figure out how to play with the same intensity every night to be a dominant club in the Metropolitan Division.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Just five games into this season, one thing is apparent. The numbers don’t lie.
A team that struggled at the faceoff dots the last few seasons has shown improvement.
As of Monday morning, the Rangers have scored 15 goals (18th in NHL) and given up 12 (25th) in their first five games. They are averaging 30.4 shots per game and 23.8 shots against per game.
The team is ranked second in the NHL, winning 55.7% of the draws they have taken. Nick Bonino (61.5%), Vincent Trocheck (58.9%), Mika Zibanejad (57%) and Filip Chytil (52%) have all improeved so far over last season.
Early on, as in preseason, special teams have been a troubling issue. The main advantage could have been more advantageous, with the team ranked 20th in the league (75%).
Penalty Killing is slightly better, with the club killing 26.7% of the penalties called on them, which ranks them 11th in the NHL.
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One game over .500 indicates mistakes made, and the Rangers have been guilty of plenty.
Understandably, the team has been learning a new system since training camp. The growing pains can be painful, as evident by the play of defenseman K’Andre Miller and Braden Schneider.
Both defensemen have been guilty of bad plays, resulting in penalties and goals against them. Miller did redeem himself as he was named the game’s third star on Saturday night in the team’s win over the Seattle Kraken.
Schnieder has played in all five games, mainly alongside Erik Gustafsson. He has recorded no points, has seven shots, and is a minus 1. A slow start should be expected as Schneider plays under a second head coach in as many seasons.
With plenty of time to improve, consistency is the ultimate team goal. A four-game road trip to Canada begins on Tuesday night in Calgary. The team heads to Edmonton, Vancouver, and concludes this trip in Winnipeg next Monday night.
A tough road trip is sometimes the best remedy to help a team play as a unit and get to know each other away from New York City.
Peter Laviolette has stressed that the regular season is an important platform to gel as a team, understanding what the coaching staff wants and polishing the systems the staff has implemented to change gears when the playoffs start in mid-April.
The learning course has begun with the Rangers understanding how important every point they play for is regardless of where they are in the NHL schedule.
Consistency is the new word of the day. The sooner the team starts putting together consecutive intense games, the sooner they will see the points pile up in a tight division with slight separation for most of the season.
Follow Frank on X at @RangerProud