Coming off a poorly played 4-0 loss to the Islanders, the New York Rangers will need to turn things around very quickly if they are to improve upon Thursday night’s effort. The added sense of urgency is also needed as the Blueshirts will face those same Islanders at the Garden on Saturday night.
In his post-game virtual press conference after the game, head coach David Quinn was quite clear that this needed to happen. “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.”
"Obviously a tough first game, but we'll get better."
— SNY (@SNYtv) January 15, 2021
The first lesson will revolve around discipline and execution, especially concerning penalties. While they were 0-3 on the power play, their eight penalties led to two Islander power-play goals. While the Rangers did not seem to get any favors from the referees, there were some penalties that were totally unnecessary.
Quinn may have started his lesson on this topic when on Friday’s practice, Tony DeAngelo, who took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and generally played poorly in the loss, skated with the “taxi squad”. Anthony Bitetto was on the ice with the varsity in a tweet posted by Rick Carpiniello of The Athletic.
The next message sent to players was a Friday practice change in the forward line pairings. Vince Mercogliano of lohud.com shared that Alexis Lafreniere was now skating with the second group while Kaapo Kakko was skating on the third line.
When Mercogliano asked Quinn about this after the practice, Quinn replied “It’s not just a message to Kakko – it’s a message to everybody… If someone plays better than you, they should get a better opportunity.”
Whether or not any of the changes will take place when the puck drops remains to be seen but at least, school is back in session for this young group of Rangers.
One change that will know will take place will be that Alexandar Georgiev will be in goal in the rematch with the Isles.
Even though Igor Shesterkin did not play particularly well, there should not be too much read into the goalie change.
During Wednesday night’s virtual town hall with Rangers fan, Quinn made it quite clear that he feels that “We have two number one goalies.” The general expectation during this unusual 56 game schedule that is put together differently than most years will be that both goaltenders will see a substantial amount of time in the net.
Regardless, the Rangers are going to need better play from the goaltender if they are going to compete with the Islanders.
Then again, that could be said for just about everyone who wore a blue jersey Thursday night.