Less than two weeks into the season you can’t know too much. No one wins or loses the Stanley Cup after their first five or six games. For all the Rangers fans out there already in a panic, don’t worry. I’m not worried. Until Alain Vigneault dresses his best lineup (if he ever dresses his best lineup), and the team continues to struggle there’s no reason to worry. The Rangers may be on a losing streak but they aren’t getting blown out of the water in these losses. They’re simply not finishing. As always they don’t shoot the puck and their defensive mistakes are predictable. Even so, a 1-4 start looks a lot worse on paper than it does in real life. The Rangers were 16-18 the year they went to the Stanley Cup, let’s not forget.
This is where I go on a rant about how the Rangers defense needs to be better as a whole. As of now, it seems that Marc Staal and Anthony DeAngelo are ahead of the rest of the options for becoming the third defensive pair, but their play suggests that won’t last. Staal is just a decent defenseman at best. DeAngelo is shaky and has committed numerous puck handling errors. It is important for the Rangers to have a set three pairings this season after what happened last year in the playoffs. They need confidence in each pairing and right now there isn’t. Skjei, Shattenkirk, McDonagh, and Smith are locks.
You can argue that the Rangers’ biggest problem is scoring goals…obviously. Henrik Lundqvist continues to be anything but the problem. He is a perfect person. This, at the very least, is what helps me to sleep at night, Watching Lundqvist stand on his head and still lose is something we’re all used to. J.T. Miller has had about as bad a start to the year as possible for him. Rick Nash isn’t a 40 goal scorer anymore and the minute you figure that out you’ll stop complaining about him because at this point he’s irrelevant. Remember when everyone in the media told us last year Jimmy Vesey was a better player than Pavel Buchnevich? Can’t say I’ve been in love with the offense from Michael Grabner, but we all saw this coming. You could make the case the Rangers should have beaten Colorado or St. Louis. You can’t make that call against the Blue Jackets. Columbus controlled possession for most of the game and kept all but two Rangers’ players below the line. Scoring chances were a disaster Not a great game from anyone.
So now is when I start to panic but remember that I am not worried. We have yet to see a great game from the Blueshirts. And when will that change? As much as poor talent evaluation is an AV staple so are these slow starts. Early indicators are that New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault has not changed. His inability to get the most out of a young roster is already on display. Despite a roster filled with talent, Vigneault continues to make questionable decisions. But you know, there are still over 75 games to go clean slates and all.