The New York Rangers have lost their penultimate preseason matchup to the New Jersey Devils by a score of 5–2. The Rangers now sit at a disappointing record of 1-4, with the preseason concluding tomorrow night against the Boston Bruins.
Tonight’s game was quite underwhelming, as the Rangers were handed their third straight loss. It is just preseason, so there should be no signs of panic just yet, but the Blueshirts must quickly get their act together by opening night.
In a game filled with ups and downs, there were a handful of both positive and negative takeaways for the Rangers.
Slow starts are hurting the Rangers early on
The Rangers seem to have a consistent issue with beginning games at a slow pace. Tonight, the Devils brought a much higher level of speed and intensity than the Rangers in the first period, eventually putting the Blueshirts down by two goals just over seven minutes into the game.
This is an issue that head coach Peter Laviolette has made note of, as he’s expressed his anger a handful of times throughout the preseason. This problem can not continue in the regular season. Teams that take an early lead often win the game, and the Rangers can not risk falling behind in the Metropolitan Division. It will be a close race for the division title, and the Blueshirts must collect every win possible.
With the preseason concluding tomorrow night against Boston, Laviolette must teach his players a lesson quickly. Unlike Gerard Gallant, Laviolette needs to hold his players accountable. Poor performances must come with repercussions rather than ignoring the issue. This is not a skill-based problem, but one caused by effort and dedication to the game.
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The power play will begin to improve with increased practice time
Heading into tonight’s game, the Rangers had gone scoreless on special teams through four games. That ultimately changed tonight with a goal from Adam Fox, which can be attributed to the Rangers finally beginning to practice the power play this week. Fox’s goal came with a beautiful assist from Artemi Panarin, indicating that he too is finally beginning to gain momentum.
All teams must run special teams drills at some point before the regular season begins, and the Rangers started quite late. They’ve only just started practicing a few sessions ago, with tonight being the first matchup since. There was some initial worry caused by the Rangers’ scoreless power play, but those concerns can be put to rest now. With the Blueshirts finding the back of the net so soon after initiating special teams practices, there should be a more consistent level of scoring from now on.
Quick looked solid despite four goals against
Jonathan Quick has been one of the most underwhelming players for the Rangers throughout preseason. He’s let in a high number of weak goals, and he has caused many concerns for the backup goalie position. Quick needed a major bounce-back performance against the Devils to prove his doubters wrong. Tonight, Quick was given the opportunity to play a full game. And although he allowed four goals, it actually was not a terrible performance.
The first goal allowed on Quick was his weakest goal against. He easily should have made the stop, as he did not live up to his name. However, none of the goals against the Rangers were really Quick’s fault. He was screened on the second, and Jacob Trouba practically handed NJ their third when he decided to send a Devils player straight into his own goalie. The fourth goal against came on a power play, in a game where the Rangers’ penalty kill looked far from decent. The last goal then came on an empty net, not adding to Quick’s stat line.
Despite the high score of a 5–2 loss, Quick can really only be held accountable for one. He made plenty of great saves and looked much more confident between the pipes. There have been recent discussions of possibly moving on from Quick already, but those concerns may have been premature. There is hope that Quick can find his game again, and tonight showed a lot of potential for that to happen.