There isn’t really much to say after your team is at the receiving end of a 9-2 loss besides “Wow.” Last night, the New York Rangers suffered one of the most devastating defeats they will have all season. Things seemed to be rolling well for the Rangers early in the first period. Brad Richards scored once again on a 5-on-3, but the San Jose Sharks took over from there. Tallying 9 goals through three periods, with no-name rookie Tomas Hertl scoring 4 of those goals, with the fourth one being a between the legs Marek Malik-like shot.
Even that wasn’t enough. Some more bad news coming out of Ranger land includes the name Rick Nash. Early in the first stanza of play, Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart looked to have elbowed Nash in the head, which led to their 5-on-3. Nash looked a little dazed and out of it. He would play the remainder of the period, but he did not return for the second or third which indicates a possible concussion (he also suffered a concussion last season, which forced him to sit out four games, and the injury was not officially announced by the team). The good news is that Nash was made available to the media after the game, which is a good sign and could possibly indicate that he will be ready to go tomorrow night against the Anaheim Ducks.
What fans saw last night was a mirror-image of what they saw last Thursday night in Phoenix. Defensive lapses, they barely mustered any offensive chances and they just looked flat to say the least.
Now, does this mean that Ranger fans press the panic button and step closer to the ledge? No, of course not. Luckily, last night was only game three of an 82-game season. There is still plenty of hockey to be played and this team is more than capable of figuring things out especially with the leadership of Ryan Callahan.
Also don’t forget, they spent the last four seasons with former head coach John Tortorella, who’s system is entirely different when compared to newbie Alain Vigneault‘s. These things don’t happen overnight, they take time. Especially when you are attempting to transform a defense-first team into an offense-first team.
In my opinion, there is one key thing that the Rangers need to improve on if they wish to win games.
That thing is defense. Now, Vigneault is a very offensive-minded coach and that will negate things on the defensive side of things but that does not mean you forget defense completely. Last night I saw too many missed assignments and just plain laziness in the Rangers’ end.
For the most part, there really isn’t anything else you can say besides “Forget it, and move on to the next one.” Games like this happen. They were on the second game of a back-to-back, and if you told me on Friday that the Rangers would split games between the Los Angeles Kings and the Sharks, I would say “Yeah, right.”
So, things aren’t all bad for the Rangers at this moment. They could be battling for a playoff spot, but they aren’t. Tomorrow marks game four of the season. Everyone in Rangerland needs to take a deep breath and relax. Things will be fine and this team will be battling for first in the division come April.