Last night’s loss to the New York Islanders demonstrated one thing about the young New York Rangers: they still have not learned to win big games yet.
This fact became very apparent in the loss to the Isles as the young Blueshirts were manhandled up and down the ice by the veteran rivals.
“They were just on top of us,” Adam Fox said in his post-game Zoom conference. “They were moving a little quicker and cycling the puck real well and just keeping us in the D zone. It was definitely tough to get odd-man chances, or really second chance opportunities, so credit them for that.”
Of course, most of this is that the Islanders are a veteran, playoff battle-tested team. They have had enough players learn how to win big games and make that part of their team’s DNA.
Not so much for the Rangers.
Fox added, “but you can just see the sustained O-zone that they had and retrieving pucks and stuff like that,” he added. “It’s definitely things that we could use in our game.”
The young New York Rangers will need to learn how to win important games.
The first step to this might be learning how to win close games.
Going into last week’s game against the Flyers, the Rangers had dropped 14 of 18 one-goal games, posting a 4-8-6 record. Then they lost that game on April 22 by….you guessed it, a goal.
Head coach David Quinn touched on what his team need’s to do to succeed in big games against good teams. “I think we’ve got to learn from them and do some of the things they (the Islanders) do, a little bit of a mentality that they have, that, you know, they never beat themselves, Quinn said in his post-game Zoom conference. “Now, we’re also built differently, so we’re going to have the ability maybe to score some goals that other teams don’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do all the things other teams can do. That’s what we’ve got to get better at. We’ve got to understand situational hockey better and not get frustrated.”
According to sports psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohen, most teams fail to win the big game because of expectation and pressure. Cohen also states that teams and players need to prepare for championship moments all season. Practice championship scenarios, and imagine those moments so when you are in those situations. You feel like you have been there before.
This is not new to most in the New York Rangers staff or most staff in most high levels of sports.
It is just something that takes a while to develop, especially with a team as young as the New York Rangers.
Some of these young Rangers will get a chance to start learning this at the NHL level. Injuries to Chris Kreider, Ryan Lindgren, and Brett Howden will lead to more playing time. Saturday night’s game still has some importance. While the playoff door has not quite closed, it may be all but shut and locked with a loss.