The New York Rangers might have gotten the win on Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Kraken, but their poor play throughout most of the game is a concern to the head coach.
The New York Rangers had just come off the Garden ice celebrating their 3-2 win over the Seattle Kraken on Sunday afternoon with K’Andre Miller scoring the game-winner with just 34 seconds remaining in the third period.
The win was the team’s 29th of the year and they have won six of their last nine games. Rangers rank tied for fourth in wins and points (62) in the NHL but you would never know the team was playing at this level after hearing what head coach Gerard Gallant had to say following the game reported by the New York Posts’s Larry Brooks.
“I think it was awful, loved the win, but I’m not happy. Competitiveness … quite a bit [missing]. Very disappointing. I’m not disrespecting their team, they play hard, I’m talking about my team and we didn’t play hard enough.”
Failing to Hold Leads
For the third consecutive game, the Blueshirts found themselves failing to protect a two-goal lead. Thanks to Miller’s late goal the Rangers were able to find a win, but it wasn’t pretty.
Shots on goal have not been easy for the team to find. Sunday’s game was the same with the Rangers only managing 12 shots on goal combined for the first and second period ( six in each of the first two periods).
Rangers forwards had 11 of the team’s 24 total shots on goal for the game. Miller lead the team in shots with four followed by Ryan Lindgren with three.
The head coach has noticed a noticeable drop in the play of his team over the past week.
Igor Shesterkin won his 21st game of the season as he kept the game close. He made 14 saves in the first period and gave the team the opportunity to win by stopping 16 of 17 shots in the third period. Having your goalie stand on his head all night to get a win is no way to go through the season ( though don’t mention that to Henrik Lundqvist).
Goal scoring has become a problem that goes side by side with a lack of shots on goal. The Rangers have the lowest goal differential of any team that is currently in a playoff spot (+20). In comparison, the first place Carolina Hurricanes have a +49 goal differential.
It’s apparent that the club is a top-heavy team with Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, and Artmei Panarin producing most of the scoring for the team. Gallant has continued to search for another forward on the team to take one of the top six spots, but he has been unsuccessful in finding a suitable player on the roster to carry the load.
The Blueline has been able to hold its own while Adam Fox has been out with an injury suffered last Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sunday’s game saw the defense pairings scrambled with Jacob Trouba and Miller paired as always. Lindgren was paired with Mathew Schneider and Libor Hajek played alongside Zac Jones.
The team has struggled with finding some consistency with their third pair unit. The Fox injury magnifies the importance of finding a fifth defenseman. Patrik Nemeth, Jeff Tinordi, and Nils Lundkvist had been a few who have tried to grab the opportunity but failed to do so.
Kappo Kakko, Filip Chytil, and Adam Fox missed Sunday’s game with injuries and are expected to miss the team’s last game before the All-Star break when they host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday at MSG.
The trade deadline is fast approaching with many decisions yet to be made. The team is in the “buying” position this year and general manager Chris Drury will need to make the right deals to improve not only the remaining portion of this season but upcoming seasons in order to go deep into the playoffs.
The issues now are the same that have lingered throughout this season. The team needs a top-six forward, a veteran defenseman, a decision on whether Alexandar Georgiev is the team’s best option as back-up goalie and should they re-sign Ryan Strome.
The head coach is not a happy camper right now with good reason. To continue the progress the team has made, some changes need to be addressed, hard decisions need to be discussed and in the end, the team will continue to play well enough to play hockey in mid-April.