The New York Rangers have lost their third preseason matchup of the year by a score of 3–2, bringing their record to 1-2. It was a close game overall as the Rangers came within one goal in the final minute of play.
Had the Devils not scored an empty net goal, prospect Brennan Othmann could have easily pushed the Rangers to overtime. Despite the final score, there are still both positive and negative takeaways the Rangers need to examine moving forward.
The Rangers’ power play may need to be tweaked
In tonight’s matchup, the Rangers’ powerplay went 0/3. It’s hard to judge a team’s special teams based on one performance, but the PP has gone 0/10 throughout all preseason games thus far. New York has not been utilizing their regular NHL roster, but going scoreless through ten power plays is inexcusable.
The two most disappointing power play performers tonight were Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. Both players are eyeing top-six roles, which will inevitably come with power play time in the regular season. They both skated well, but neither were able to get on the scoresheet against the Devils.
Moving forward, head coach Peter Laviolette may need to make adjustments to the Blueshirts’ power play. It’s too early to blow it all up and start fresh, but there should be some spark of success soon. If not, the Blueshirts may be in trouble come the regular season.
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Shesterkin will have to steal games again
The Rangers’ top superstar is goaltender Igor Shesterkin. For the last three seasons, Shesterkin has carried the Rangers on his back, stealing games that the Blueshirts should have lost by a landslide. In tonight’s game against the Devils, New Jersey came flying out the gate. They had a fast-paced start New York had difficulty keeping up with, and they were lucky to exit the first period only down by one.
Shesterkin kept the Rangers in the game, a story the Blueshirts have witnessed many times. Tonight, Shesterkin stopped 20 of 21 shots, earning himself an incredible .952 save percentage. Hopefully, Laviolette will find a way to get the team going offensively.
The Rangers did manage to score four times against the Islanders, but they’ve only notched two goals across the other two contests. Unless the Blueshirts’ scoring significantly improves, Shesterkin will have another season of weight on his shoulders.
The Metropolitan division will be a highly competitive race
Last season, the Rangers finished third in the Metropolitan division behind the Carolina Hurricanes and the Devils. Heading into 2023-24, the Blueshirts hope to improve their standings by the end of this season. Both the Hurricanes and Devils made key offseason acquisitions throughout the summer, and the Rangers added a few players as well.
There is hope that the Blueshirts could potentially take home the Metropolitan title, but it won’t be an easy task. Throughout the preseason thus far, the Rangers have failed to overcome any sign of adversity. Their sole win came against the New York Islanders, a weaker team with a less skilled prospect pool.
If the Blueshirts plan to make a case for the division title, they’ll have to improve their winning abilities against their divisional matchups. Although the Rangers have yet to face Carolina in the preseason, it’s a safe bet that it will be an even more difficult contest. A 3-2 loss against New Jersey isn’t terrible, especially considering one of the Devils’ goals came as an empty net score, but there must still be improvement.