New York Rangers believe in each other, will it be enough?
This is the not the start the New York Rangers envisioned for themselves coming off a remarkable season last year. After opening the 2022-23 campaign 3-1-0, the Blueshirts have gone 3-4-3 since and are having trouble in almost every facet on the ice.
Their latest debacle came at the hands of the rival New York Islanders in a crucial divisional matchup. Up 3-1 entering the third period, the Rangers backed into their own zone and created a sea of Lady Liberty jerseys in front of Igor Shesterkin. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner couldn’t get set and was unable to see a shot from defenseman Adam Pelech just 14 seconds in.
It was all downhill from there as the Rangers continued to leave men alone in front and the refs became a factor in the contest. That eventually led to an Islanders rally for a 4-3 win.
Head coach Gerard Gallant was obviously upset with the blatant non-call on Kaapo Kakko that prevented him from making the play to gain control of the puck just before Anders Lee scored. However, he stayed upbeat about the performance.
“They played well tonight, we deserved the game but we didn’t get it,” Gallant lamented. “We competed and we battled hard. The Islanders are the best scoring team in the third and they found a way.”
New York Rangers believe in each other
The Rangers may have gotten burned by a bad non-call, but they can’t be absolved from the defensive mistakes made that led to the result. On all three goals, the team simply didn’t defend well.
“It’s not about controlling the play, it’s about the scoreboard at the end of day,” captain Jacob Trouba said. “That’s where we’re struggling right now. We’ve got to find a way to win games… time is a ticking.”
Despite their latest loss, which is now three in a row (0-2-1), the team remains confident with a belief they’ll find a way out of this.
“After a loss, it’s always a little depressing,” Artemi Panarin explained through a translator. “We have a good team and a good group of guys to get our confidence back. We have a good captain, we just a need a few games to turn this around.”
Panarin, who has cooled off of late, notched two assists in his 200th game as a member of the Blueshirts. He has 19 points in 14 contests to lead the team.
His center to the start the season, Vincent Trocheck, who signed as a free agent in the offseason from divisional rival Carolina, echoed his sentiments.
“I truly believe in this group– I mean a lot,” Trocheck said with conviction in his voice. “I know what kind of team we have and I know what we’re capable of. It’s a confidence thing for us and we’ve got to fight through it.”
Trocheck, 29, has 11 points in 14 games after registering a goal and an assist versus the Isles. He and Panarin are temporarily split as Gallant tried some new line combinations to shake things up.
The expectation is that Gallant will start to bring his regular lines back together heading to Detroit for a road game on Thursday.
Will belief be enough?
Hockey is about systems and talent which the Rangers have. A lot of what’s happening right now appears to be mostly due to bad decisions on the ice looking for office. Deviating from the system if you will.
On the game-winning goal, the Rangers defensive pair of Trouba and K’Andre Miller were already heading up ice to look for offense. Yes, Kakko was tripped and there should’ve been a call, but Lee being left all alone in front is inexcusable.
This is simply not what we saw in the team late last year as they made their way up the standings and to the Eastern Conference Final.
“We want to right the ship here and get back on track,” Adam Fox noted. “We can’t rest on last year.”
Belief is going to play a huge role in helping the team turn it around. It’s a starting point, but that’s not going to be enough. They’ll need to lock into their identity, which we’ve truly only seen once this season when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first game.
“I don’t have any magic answers,” Trouba stated. “We’re going to keep working through it. You build confidence through work. You build it with the team and we’ll get to it.”
To a man they clearly believe in each other. Now that must believe in the system that made them successful and adhere to it.
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