The New York Rangers wrapped up their West Coast road trip Tuesday night, where the Blueshirts lost to the San Jose Sharks by a score of 3-2 in overtime. This loss came as a shock for two main reasons- the Sharks are standing at the bottom of the league in points, and the Rangers had a 2-0 lead heading into the third period.
The Blueshirts have been in a slump for about the last month. There have been certain moments where faith is restored, but they always fall short of making a full comeback to stability. After this loss, one thing is for certain- the Rangers have officially hit rock bottom after an incredible start to the season.
The last month of play has been abysmal for New York
Heading into the 2024 calendar year, the Rangers were ranked first overall in the NHL. It was the first time they had done so since the 1993-94 season, the last time they have hoisted the Stanley Cup. Since then, the Blueshirts have been on a downward spiral. They’ve dropped down six places in the league standings, and have gone just 3-5-2 in their last ten games played.
What’s incredible is that the Rangers are still the top team in the Metropolitan Division. Their performance early on in the season was so successful that even now, with practically everything going wrong, they still hold a five-point lead over the second-place Philadelphia Flyers. Some will use this as an excuse to brush off these problems without concern, but if this continues, the Rangers will quickly fall even further down in the standings.
On the other hand, choking to the San Jose Sharks is the straw that breaks the camel’s back for some fans. A lot of the Blueshirts’ losses have been ugly, but none have been as sad as this one. Not only is San Jose statistically the worst team in the NHL, but the Rangers managed to give up a two-goal lead in the third period to them.
Who’s to blame for the Rangers’ struggles?
At this point, the real question should be who isn’t to blame for the last month of terrible hockey. Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck seem to be the only two playing with real effort, as the rest of the team has been skating like nothing has been going wrong for the team.
The defensive corps is taking the most heat for these struggles, and it’s justified. Not a single defender has looked anything above average recently, and K’Andre Miller has been the worst of the bunch by far. They’ve given absolutely zero help to an already-struggling Igor Shesterkin, and this has led to a plethora of goals finding their way to the back of the Rangers’ net.
The offensive corps has been guilty as well. Mika Zibanejad has quickly fallen off a cliff offensively, and the entire bottom six looks lost without a proper third-line center leading them. Alexis Lafreniere can’t finish a play to save his life, and Chris Kreider cooling down has brought the power play to a screeching halt. Fans can only hope that the entire Rangers team gets their act together soon, because if they don’t, a once-promising season will quickly turn into another failure.
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