The New York Rangers really needed to kick off the rust last night in their 2-1 loss to their cross-town rival Islanders. The lack of game of real game sharpness and the style the Islanders play made for a very frustrating night for the Blueshirts. However, there are some positives that came out of this contest.
The New York Rangers know that Carolina and the Isles play very different styles
The clogging, suffocating defensive style that the Islanders play has always given the Rangers some issues. The Blueshirts usually play better against faster teams and even the tougher teams. But teams that are good at clogging the neutral zone make it tough for the Rangers to get their transition game going.
Post-game, head coach David Quinn thought they got frustrated as the game went on, that their transition game stalled and they got bottled up a little bit in the neutral zone.
Another thing that makes it tough is when a team has to spend a lot of time killing off penalties. In the first period, the Rangers spent three and a half consecutive minutes of the first period killing penalties, including 33 seconds of five-on-three. They did a really good job of killing penalties, but it means that you spend less time getting your offense going, against the team that excels at stifling offensive production. This is was really the main reason why Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad did not look good, something that Quinn is not expecting on Saturday.
Kaapo Kakko looks much improved coming off the break
One of the more pleasant surprises in last night’s game was the play of forward Kaapo Kakko. For many games during the season, Kakko was criticized for hesitating, or passing the puck, instead of shooting it. Not last night. Kakko was aggressive with his shots including the time when he came out of the penalty box, made a little move against an Islander defender, and got off a good shot that was stopped. Kakko also got a few shifts on the Artemi Panarin-Ryan Strome line in place of Jesper Fast.
no hesitation on the one-timer 👀 pic.twitter.com/wBMvXbd8ip
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) July 30, 2020
Quinn told the media after the game that Kakko won’t start in the top six on Saturday, but it is a possibility if he’s trying to get some different looks.
The New York Rangers defense looked a little different
Many in Rangers nation celebrated the fact that former defensive assistant Lindy Ruff took a head coaching job in New Jersey, as Ruff was the brunt of much frustration when the Rangers defense broke down in the season.
In his post-game media availability, Jacob Trouba talked about the effect that Gord Murphy has had on the defense. “Obviously, Gord’s here now and Lindy moved on so that’s a little bit of a different voice. PK is something we went over a lot the last week or so.” Trouba said. “A little bit of a different feel. It was nice to get some practice in today because there are a couple of changes with a different voice leading the way.”
Speaking of the defense, Marc Staal had a minor injury but was held out due to precautionary measures. Quinn expects him to play Saturday in game one against the Hurricanes.