Igor Shesterkin ‘ashamed’ of his play but Rangers have plenty of blame to go around
As the New York Rangers struggle looking for answers on why things are so bad on Broadway, one thing is abundantly clear, this is not the 2021-2022 hockey club.
Three games into the second quarter of the NHL season, the Rangers have had no answers to recent calamities. Last night against the New Jersey Devils, the Blueshirts let another multi-goal lead slip away losing the contest 5-3. The team, 10-9-4, sits outside the playoff bubble, a position the team played hockey from for most of last season.
Igor Shesterkin blames himself
Igor Shesterkin took the blame for the loss last night entirely on his shoulders. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has not played up to last year’s standards but has not been the issue until the last two games.
Shesty was quite tough on himself following the loss to New Jersey, especially with the third period debacle against the Edmonton Oilers fresh on his mind.
“The goalie played a s–t game again,” Shesterkin said without a translator after surrendering at least a couple of wonky ones in a game the Blueshirts actually led 2-0 after 3:01 of play. “I’m ashamed.”NY Post
Shesterkin has accounted for all of the Rangers 10 wins this season with a more than respectable 2.58 GAA and a .913 save percentage.
While it’s great to see Shesterkin be accountable, there are so many more glaring issues with this team.
New York Rangers turnovers
The hockey team is guilty of so many turnovers and it seems this year that most of them find the back of the Blueshirts net. Jacob Trouba, who may be playing through some nagging injuries, has been struggling with opposition players forechecking hard. That’s led to him coughing up the puck when he’s pressured. It’s impacting his partner K’Andre Miller equally.
In fact, the turnover problem has been a result of two things that pretty much can be corrected. Smarter decisions with the puck, not forcing plays that aren’t there, and keep your skates moving.
The team seems to get overwhelmed and forced into bad decisions when players are pressured. While one player has the puck, the others are either breaking out of the zone too early or just passively watching the action.
Poor decisions are a direct result of this team losing what made them successful last season.
Plenty of blame for Gerard Gallant
Gerard Gallant has been hesitant to make a big line combination change this season. In Monday’s contest, he did move Artemi Panarin on a line with Filip Chytil at center and Kappo Kakko on the other wing and it resulted in the first goal of the game by the Breadman.
Chris Kreider is looking for the scoring touch he had last season when he scored a career-high 52 goals. He has 10 goals and 20 points, but things haven’t come as easy as they did last year for him.
That can be said for the entire team.
Kreider has been on all different line combinations including some time on the third line earlier in the year. He is a veteran on this team, one Gallant had hoped would step up and find a way to find some consistency within the club.
Zac Jones and Libor Hajek have been a concern the entire season. Jones has made mistakes, as a rookie that’s expected. However, Gallant has also been steadfast in getting Hajek ice time. The constant flip-flopping of partners for Braden Schneider hadn’t benefitted anyone. It’s hard to find consistency when what appears to be every other game there’s a new third pair.
There has been consistency, but not the kind many want to discuss. On most nights this team is inconsistent and haven’t been able to put together a complete effort.
The most recent example of a glaring problem for New York was Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Edmonton which saw the Blueshirts dominate for two periods and then suffered a total team failure that allowed the Oilers to score four times in the third period.
At the end of the day, the failure rests on the shoulders of the head coach. Gerard Gallant has been trying to put out fires all season, but things seem to be getting to a point of defending his players no matter the cost.
Many postgame press conferences have included Gallant making excuses or suggesting a ‘silver lining’ despite bad games. This can go on only so long until it just becomes just words instead of a message being sent.
Gallant has already called out the team for embarrassing efforts twice this season, including a third period no show against the lowly Sharks in October. He did so again against the Oilers, but instead has chosen to be positive the very next day in an effort to keep his team’s confidence high.
It hasn’t worked.
Where To Go From Here
To continue to do the same thing over and over is crazy. The Rangers have a 23-man roster that they believed could do the job, yet many questions remain to determine if this is true.
The status of Vitali Kravtsov needs to be addressed sooner than later. He has been scratched for eight consecutive games and had only played in six games this season. He has had injuries and a dental procedure that forced him to miss action.
Gallant has declared Kravtsov as the extra forward on the team, which is ironic because when training camp began in September, Jimmy Vesey and Dryden Hunt were destined to battle for the “13th” spot.
Today, Hunt is no longer on the team, Vesey has been playing on the first line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibeanjad and Kratsov is on the outside looking in.
If you look at it, that is the epitome of how this season has gone.
Many things can be fixed with hard work and discipline. This club has a very long way to go to replicate what it achieved last season, but it can be done.
It starts with finding their swagger or their mojo and build up from there. The Rangers had an attitude about them last season, one that said ” give me your best, because we will still beat you.” and then they did.
No Quit New York was in full effect no matter the score or circumstance at hand.
The team needs to get back to that style of hockey and get away from the soft-jaw reputation many clubs think they have and what they have displayed this year.
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