For the Rangers it starts with David Quinn but Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider deserve bulk of blame

mika zibanejad
Feb 16, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers reacts to the loss to the New Jersey Devils after the game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

It is so easy, especially when you are swimming in a sea of anger to scream “Fire Quinn!” Way too easy.

Trust me, your anger and frustrations are abundantly clear to me and that’s why David Quinn has to share the blame here. Especially for what happened last night.

Rangers vs Devils: Worst loss of the season

The Blueshirts opened the season with a 4-0 no-show against the Islanders. First game of the season without a single exhibition game and two new rookies, it was easy to give them a pass. It was even easier when they responded with a 5-0 shutout of their own against a team that played in the East Conference Finals the season before.

Since then the Rangers have been in a never-ending string of close games and failing to come out on top way too often. Last night, well as Chris Kreider said, “it was unacceptable.

The entire hockey planet knew the Devils, who had not played a game in 16 days were going to storm the MSG castle walls. They did so by outshooting the Blueshirts 16-9 in the opening stanza. If not for the heroic goaltending of Igor Shesterkin it could’ve easily been 3-0.

Then in the third period, the wheels fell of the bus and a 2-2 game became a 5-2 loss.

Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider need to step up

While David Quinn continues to take the brunt of all the Rangers failures this season, we have far too long given a pass to both Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

They are the two names most often viewed or discussed as potential captains. Neither of them are getting it done on the ice, which makes it tougher for them to call out the entire team.

“We were lacking a little bit of desperation to be honest with you,” Zibanejad lamented about the third period effort. “It’s tight, we have to find a way to get this to go in our favor.”

chris kreider

“They flat out wanted it more – it’s unacceptable,” Kreider said in a frustrated tone. “We all have to hate this feeling – I sound like a broken record.”

Here’s the problem, both Kreider and Zibanejad played big roles in the loss last night. Each took inexplicable penalties and it was Zibanejad’s elbow that broke the ice for the Devils on the ensuing PP.

Call out the team all you like, but last night I saw the top line fail to produce again. Pavel Buchnevich’s goal aside the KZB line hasn’t done much all season.

David Quinn is responsible, but he doesn’t score goals

I’m not sure how many times I have to say this, but David Quinn doesn’t score goals. From an offensive standpoint, he’s done almost everything a coach can do to shake his guys out of slumps.

He continues to be maligned for the fact that Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere have not magically started their NHL careers as good as Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. May I ask you just how much winning goes on in Edmonton? How many coaches have they had there since McDavid arrived? McDavid’s Oilers didn’t win under Todd McLellan, Ken Hitchcock, and now Dave Tippett. That’s three coaches since 2016 and no Cups.

David Quinn has coached a grand total of 166 games. If we want to play with the numbers, that’s really two 82 game regular seasons plus two games into a third year. The Rangers actually became younger this season when they made the painful decisions to buyout Henrik Lundqvist, trade Marc Staal, and let Jesper Fast walk. They went from an average age of 26.2 to 25.5, yet fans are screaming that this team should be further along.

Tony DeAngelo further complicated things with his actions, and put the Rangers in a weaker position defensively. Young teams need to build a winning culture, and DeAngelo mouthed off too many times to coaches, referees and teammates. Even when issued an ultimatum by GM Jeff Gorton he couldn’t keep his cool and got into an altercation with Alexandar Georgiev. While Alex shouldn’t have engaged, he wasn’t the one with the warning.

Still, Quinn deserves blame for the inconsistent effort his team puts out. When asked about that last night his answer had an angry tone to it. “It’ll be addressed tomorrow at practice, and before practice, and after practice, and before we play Philly.”

What can Quinn do?

The question I’ve been contemplating is what can David Quinn do? For many only his firing will suffice. Many fans have made up their minds and continue to believe firing a coach is some simple solution. I ask you, who are the Rangers bringing in to magically solve what ails them offensively? We are 14 games into a 56 game shortened season in the hardest division in the NHL and the Rangers have one legit threat in Artemi Panarin and he’s missed the last two games – both losses.

Here’s what Quinn can do that many of you won’t like. He can demote both Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. I mean if we are going on performance, Colin Blackwell and Kevin Rooney have been much better offensively as of late. Hell that’s what John Tortorella does in Columbus right? Benches Pierre-Luc Dubois, then benches Patrik Laine. How’s that working out in Columbus this season? Let me check – oh yeah they are 7-6-4 and sit fifth in the Central Division. By the way, the rebuilding Blackhawks are ahead of them.

Bottom line, Quinn is responsible and depending on how this year goes he may not be the coach for the 2021-22 campaign. I assure you that I have it on good word that the organization is not thinking about letting him go this season. He does need to shake this team up.

The Rangers also hope to have Artemi Panarin and K’Andre Miller back next game as they may have just lost Jacob Trouba. The Rangers top defenseman is being evaluated today for an injury.

Even with those players in the lineup Quinn has his hands full. Aside from trying to play a defensive game with little offensive risk in hopes of winning games 2-1, he can’t overcome the lack of production from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

Blame the coach all you want, but when you see the team’s record it is strongly linked to Zibanejad having just one goal and three points on the season. Same for Kreider who has only four goals and five points in 14 games.

When it comes to the team’s position in the standings, there’s plenty of blame to go around. It’s not just Quinn but he needs to right this ship immediately.

Post Game Notes:

  • The Rangers registered 39 shots on goal in tonight’s game, including 16 shots on goal in the second period. The Blueshirts have registered 30 or more shots on goal in four of the last five games and in 10 of the last 13 contests.
  • Colin Blackwell registered a goal, won all three faceoffs he took, and registered two shots on goal. He has tallied a point in four of six games with the Rangers (two goals, two assists). Blackwell has also registered nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last 12 NHL games.
  • Pavel Buchnevich recorded a goal and registered three shots on goal. Buchnevich tallied his 156th career point with the Rangers in tonight’s game, tying Sergei Zubov for the third-most by a Russian-born player with the Blueshirts in franchise history.

Wednesday, Feb. 17: Practice, 12:00 p.m. at MSG Training Center

Next Game: Thursday, Feb. 18 at Philadelphia (7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network)

*Notes courtesy of NYR

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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