Bad starts a theme for New York Rangers lately

It’s not about how you start, rather how you finish, unless you play yourself out of the game early and never get the chance to finish. That has been the disturbing trend as the New York Rangers have lost their third straight game for the first time since November 23-28th.

This monotony in the opening frame actually started last Friday during the teams 5-4 come from behind shootout win against Edmonton. The Rangers had their slow run through the first 20 minutes of the game, allowing four goals in the period to the tune of 2.36 expected goals against.

On Saturday night in Calgary the start did not get any better, allowing two goals in the first 46 seconds of the opening frame. The Rangers would be properly throttled again in the first 20,  being shut out to, albeit, one of the better first period teams in the league. On the advanced metrics side, the Flames nearly doubled the Rangers chances and expected goals.

This is something that has not been lost on the team either, including the new guys.

“I think we should start better,” Tarasenko said via “It’s nice to win games when you’re coming back, but you should play better at the start. Everybody knows that we can play better. I don’t think anybody’s satisfied with the result today.”

Monday is the outlier of these last four games. While, for the second game in a row the Rangers were unable to score in the opening period, they dominated the play on the ice. Their 2.03 expected goals to Winnipeg’s 1.48 is cause for some optimism, however that soon flew out the window when New York found themselves down 2-0 despite a solid opening frame.

Finally on Thursday, amid rumors of Patrick Kane and other potential trade targets, and the scratching of Jake Leschyshyn and Vitali Kravtsov, the Rangers trotted out their most lifeless first period in a while. For the third consecutive game, New York was unable to tally a goal in the opening period while surrendering one against. For those counting at home, the Rangers have been outscored 9-1 in first periods over the last four games. Analytically they’re allowing a full expected goal more over that time frame as well.

New York Rangers must reverse trend

Igor Shesterkin
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

This is not a new concept for this Rangers team as it was one of their main struggles early in the season. That combined with defensive breakdowns, poor goaltending and an unlucky offense caused the Rangers to sit at 11-10-5 through the first 26 games of the year. Little by little now, those same problems have crept back into the Rangers game over the last week.

The Rangers have not been a bad first period team all year, before the Edmonton game New York had a +13 goal differential in the opening frame, which has since shrunk to +5 since last Friday. 

Saturday needs to be a hard reset for a Ranger team that may be muddled with distractions. They’ll face-off with a Capitals team that has lost six in a row, including a 4-2 loss at home their last time out to the second worst team in the league in Anaheim. The Rangers need to show up on time for a 1 p.m. eastern start in the nation’s capital to shake off a bad seven days.

“Not our best game for sure,” captain Jacob Trouba admitted. “We’ve got a couple now that we’ve lost and we’ve got to get back on track. We’ll to do that in a couple of nights (Saturday vs Capitals).”

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Steven Pappas is a North Jersey native who works as a news anchor and reporter at WHAM-13 in Rochester,... More about Steven Pappas

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