I have not thrown my two senses in about the Rangers in quite some time, I usually like to remain a bit quiet while the season goes on. At this moment it is harder for me to remain quiet, and I think it is fair to say the Rangers are not looking too hot right now.
The New York Rangers are on a three-game losing streak, have dropped five of their last ten games and currently sit only one point away from being knocked out of a wild-card spot. The big concern for me is the lack of scoring on this team while allowing five-plus goals in back to back games. Understood the Islanders and Penguins have very solid offenses but as a playoff caliber team, these games cannot be games where they get blown out. Also if we look at the Rangers three wins in the last ten games, they come against two of the worst teams in the NHL, in which they barely beat them as well.
Now, we can sit here and nitpick all of this teams problem, but let’s not. They are missing one of their top six forwards and lack some center depth but, the main problem has to be goal scoring, defensive accountability, and their power-play. The Rangers have not been a high scoring team in their last ten, nor really all season. In the last ten games they have scored 14 goals and on the season they have 129 goals(15th in the NHL). It is understood and known coming into this season the Rangers probably lacked depth scoring/goal scoring in general. Another concern we have to look at that goes hand and hand with goal scoring is how inefficient the Rangers power play has been, over the last ten games they are 1/14 on the power play and on the season have an 18.7 power play percentage. Once a top-five power play team has dropped to 18th in the league now.
Another area of concern here is the Rangers defensive accountability, two players that come to mind when I hear this is Kevin Shattenkirk and Nick Holden. The fact I have just categorized Shattenkirk and Holden in the same sentence concerns me. But let’s be brutally honest Shattenkirk has not been the player we expected and his defensive turnovers and poor decisions with the puck make it even harder to look at him for just his offensive capability. Which has not been there consistently all season.
You can love Shattenkirk all you want, but I am not pleased with his year so far. First off he has not scored in 28 games, wow. Secondly, he has two assists over the last month of play and two power-play points. Over the last ten games he has 1 point, and a -7 plus/minus rating and last but not least has been an absolute liability in the defensive end with the puck. If this guy cannot turn around his play this season he will have a tough time excelling in New York. Now, I say Nick Holden’s name because he plays top minutes usually paired with Ryan McDonagh and if you are going to be playing those minutes, you better be playing like a top-four defenseman, which he is not. Holden just concerns me because he is extremely inconsistent and some games he looks there while others he looks like he is still in the locker room. Luckily he is gone after this season because, a pairing of McDonagh-Shattenkirk, Skeji-Smith/D’Angelo sounds good to me.
What can be done to help this though? There are a lot of things that can be done, switching the offensive lines up(or moving one/two guys around), asking Rick Nash if he wants to score anytime soon(has not scored in 12 games), seeing if Kevin Shattenkirk remembers how to play defense and offense at the same time, asking the Rangers defense as a whole to step up, staying out of the penalty box, maybe acquiring a top-six forward(Evander Kane?). There are a ton of questions and answers about this team but at this very moment, as a Rangers fan and knowing how tight this Metropolitan division and wild-card race has been, you have to be worried a bit. Nothing to panic about yet, but we are getting very close to that marker.