With the New York Rangers playing just over half of their games for the 2020-21 season, it is time to assess how the Blueshirts have played to this point.
Going into Sunday night’s action, the Rangers are 13-13-4, sitting in sixth place in the East Division. They are six points behind the Boston Bruins for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Having one of the youngest teams in the league, inconsistency was to be expected, and it has happened.
New York Rangers forwards grade: C
Much of the forwards issues center around Mika Zibanejad. To be fair, his slow start could have been due to his bout with COVID-19 during training camp. Even though he will not say it, this appears to have been a huge factor in his slow start.
Nevertheless, the Ranger’s offense was not as it was last year, even though they have many of the same cast, along with the addition of the first overall pick.
In 2019-20, the Rangers averaged 3.33 goals per game to rank fifth in the NHL. This year, they are averaging 3.00 goals per game, good for just 15th place ranking in the league.
It has not helped that Artemi Panarin missed 11 games with an injury and a personal leave of absence. He was sorely missed during this time.
The Ranger’s power play has struggled, possibly missing Tony DeAngelo who did do a fine job of being the quarterback for that unit. Lost
Lost faceoffs have been an issue for the offense and the power play. too many times this season, the Ranger’s power play seems to be chasing the puck back in their own end, after losing a faceoff and having their opponents clear the puck.
New York Rangers defense-grade: B+
New assistant coach Jacques Martin has done an outstanding job of getting this unit ready for the season.
In addition to Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba, K’Andre Miller has been a pleasant surprise in his rookie season.
Last year under defensive coach Lindy Ruff, the Rangers ranked 23rd in goals against (3.14 per game) and 30th in shots allowed (34.0 per). This season, the Rangers rank 11th in goals against (2.68) and eighth in shots allowed (28.6). This is even with some inconsistent goaltending.
The penalty kill has been superb. A group that finished 23rd last season is ranked fourth this year. They are pressuring the puck more and force opposition power plays to move it quickly. The defense still needs to be a little tougher in front of the net (think Alex Ovechkin‘s two goals Friday night), but overall this unit has been very solid.
New York Rangers goaltending grade: C
The Rangers can thank Keith Kinkaid for receiving even this high of a mark.
Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev were supposed to be the one-two punch in the net for now and the future. Besides the Islander’s shutout, Georgiev has given up way too many soft goals. He is also getting himself out of position, leaving the net open for opponents. (Again, reflect back on Ovechkin’s first goal on Friday)
While Shesterkin still recovers from a “minor” groin strain, he has also been guilty of giving up too many soft goals.
Think about it, have the Rangers won a game this year when they were outplayed? No, because the goalies have been unable to steal even a single one in the first half of the season.
New York Rangers coaching grade: Incomplete
While basing head coach David Quinn has been fashionable, the reality of what is going on in the world has made it necessary to not evaluate a coaching staff until the entire season has been completed.
Plus, it would be a bit insensitive to grade a coaching staff who is sitting home due to the NHL COVID protocols. It is possible that one or even more of the coaches have contracted the virus.
While it is great to win games, one of the other tasks of a coach is to teach and develop players. One can argue that he has done that with some, and not so much with others.
Overall, Quinn and the Rangers are sitting exactly at the point in the standings that many pundits thought they would be at, and where they will be at the end of the season.
After the season is the best time, especially during a pandemic, to look at how the coaching staff has done their jobs.