Now is not the time to panic about the New York Rangers, nor lose sight of what could still happen this season.
It has been an interesting few days for the Blueshirts, who turned in a “horseshit” performance against the New York Islanders, in the words of Head Coach Gerard Gallant, before losing in a shootout to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Now, there’s no getting away from the fact that the Rangers absolutely stunk the place out against the Isles on Friday night, and there’s never an excuse for a lack of effort out on the ice.
That lack of hustle looked to be rearing its ugly head against the Flyers too, with the Rangers down three zip before staging a big third period comeback, only to eventually fall in the shootout.
Two bad losses against two teams who have nothing to play for, for sure, but it seems a little silly for people to lose their collective minds given where the Rangers are and where they could end up.
Plus, like with anything, you really have to drill down in order to get the full picture and if you look at the stats you’ll quickly learn that some bad puck luck and just stupid mistakes were the problem, not anything more serious.
For starters, this is still one of the youngest teams in the NHL so mistakes and the odd blowout will happen. It is only natural and it is all part of the maturation process for the Blueshirts.
Yes, there’s no excusing the lack of effort and just the clear absent of fight against the Islanders, but that was rectified in part by the fact that the Rangers did eventually get their act together against the Flyers and climbed out of a 3-0 hole.
As forward Andrew Copp said, good teams find a way to claw back and salvage something from the contest, even if it is just a point in OT.
And they probably would have won were it not for some stunning bad puck luck.
On that note, and as was the case in the game against the Isles, the Rangers clearly came out on top in a statistical sense, recording an incredible 86 shot attempts to Philadelphia’s 37 and outshot their opponents 46-26.
They hit posts, crossbars and came up against a goalie in Martin Jones who stood on his head, so it is fair to assume that on another night the Rangers would have taken care of business against one of the worst teams in the Metro Division.
All of that is to say that the last two games should just be filed under a couple of bad nights at the office, nothing more and nothing less.
Every team, even the best ones, will have nights like the Rangers have recently experienced, because you can’t win all 82 games.
The one caveat is that this team does need to stop playing down to their opponents having struggled against the likes of the New Jersey Devils, who they happen to play tonight at Prudential Center.
But, this team have proven time and time again this season just how good they are and they are going to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017.
That in itself is reason to celebrate.
Yes, the past two games have been frustrating to watch because the Rangers were the masters of their own downfall, but there’s been more good than bad this season and the exciting thing is the best is probably still yet to come with April now a huge month.
Having gone all in at the Trade Deadline to acquire depth and bolster their bottom-six, don’t be surprised if the Rangers make a deep run and, if they do, we will look back on this week as nothing more than a minor blip.
So, let’s keep some perspective and remember that this is a gruelling war of attrition that will feature plenty of ups and downs.