Rangers depth and defensive zone coverage raises concern
Is the defensive zone a concern after three games? No, not really. Not after game three and only loss number two. We all remember how last season began and how bad the team was the first month of the season. This is a new season though and there’s enough core players from last season to know the system. Even with the roster turnover and rookies filling full time roster spots, the eleven goals allowed the last two games is a bit alarming.
The chemistry will take time to form as lines are shuffled until injured players return.
In their defense the New York Rangers have four rookies and a journeyman defenseman playing the right side as a lefty. They are playing without one of their best defensive forwards and top line centerman Derek Stepan. Dan Boyle was supposed to help out with those big power plays but he lasted two periods of the season before making way for Matt Hunwick and now Mike Kostka.
The New York Rangers strength is their speed, skating ability and stifiling defense.
The New York Rangers have had their fair share of hard luck already this season. That’s part of the game though and any team with even playoff aspirations has to over come. The fact of the matter is the New York Rangers have not been playing their game. That game includes speed, puck persuit and defense.
Some of the rookies are in the lineup right now out of necessity and others are there as short term call ups. Anthony Duclair has been a nice story so far this season and has made me a believer. I think the “Duke” has a real shot at staying for at the least most of the season. He’s been real good and hasn’t looked out of place. He’s made some mistakes but it doesn’t faze him the next shift or even the next time he can get the puck.
J.T. Miller has had his moments with the puck. He’s quick with it and he’s not affraid to make a play. Without the puck on the other hand, he has been weak to say the least. He’s a minus four in three games so far and that’s from the last two games. He isn’t able to play center because of the defensive responsibilities, they’re over his head. The New York Rangers really need a centerman for the middle of the lineup. The third pivot is vaccated by the injury to Derek Stepan. So far he has looked better on the wing. Tonight he is scratched in favor of Ryan Malone.
Jesper Fast is a real nice young player and possibly the most NHL ready in the New York Rangers pipeline (not named Duclair). He isn’t suited for the fourth line though. His skill set is better suited for a top nine role on the roster but there’s a log jam on the wing in NY. It’s one place the Rangers have a ton of depth.
It looks like he would be better served playing top six or top nine minutes in Hartford. We saw a glimpse of what he can do in the preseason, he just needs a little more seasoning. That way he could be an asset later in the year if another injury hits. Tonight, he will be scratched as Mats Zuccarello returns to the lineup.
New York’s problems are temporary. When Derek Stepan returns a lot of this chaos and confusion will settle. Same goes for the return of Dan Boyle. However, this does show that some of the young and depth players aren’t ready for primetime. At least, not yet.