It is a good thing for the New York Rangers that they are not a Broadway play because based on last night’s performance, they would be closed down. In falling to the New York Islanders by the score of 4-0, the Rangers disappointed many by the way they were outplayed and outcoached in this contest.
Much of the Ranger’s difficulty did seem to come from a bundle of nerves as they fell behind the Islanders 3-0 after one period. The Islanders jumped on the Rangers early with a Brock Nelson power-play goal and an Anders Lee tally within the first four minutes of the first period. Matthew Barzal scored the third goal to cap the scoring, a goal that goalie Igor Shesterkin would normally have stopped.
Shesterkin became the first goaltender other than Henrik Lundqvist to start a season opener for the Rangers since Kevin Weekes in October 2005.
— The NHL Tracker (@thenhltracker) January 15, 2021
After the game, Rangers forward Chris Kreider described the game as “a good lesson for our young group tonight in the patient hockey needed to win at this level.” While praising the Islanders play, Kreider also mentioned that they relied too much on their “east-west game”, and to use the things they have been working on during the past week.
While praising the Islanders, a frustrated head coach David Quinn stated the Rangers “did not play fast enough, did not use their speed, and every time we got the puck we stood around to see who we could get the puck to and that approach does work well against anybody, let alone the Islanders.”
Quinn also knows that things need to get better quickly as the Rangers turn around and face the Islanders again on Saturday night at the garden. “We need to be quick learners,” Quinn said. “It might be a good lesson and a reminder for a bunch of guys who don’t have it in their hockey DNA to play the way we need them to tonight.”
Concerning the long-awaited debut of first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere, and rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller, Quinn felt that they got to see what hockey was like at the professional level and that both players did get better as the game went on.
“Tonight was a great lesson for all of our players.”
The Rangers did have a chance to draw the game closer when they had a goal waved off at 9:15 of the second period when defenseman Jacob Trouba looked like he scored. The no-goal call stood after an official review, as the NHL stated that the “intended whistle” negated the goal.
While it was not exactly the start they wanted, it is important to remember that the average age of a player on the Rangers’ active roster entering the season is 25.5 years old, which is the youngest in the NHL. It was the first time in franchise history that seven players 22 or younger played in a season-opening game according to NHL Stats and Information.
Rangers fans are hoping that this young group has a short memory and are quick learners.