New York Rangers face important long road trip early in season

NHL: New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the season with a record of 2-2-0 and coming off their worst game thus far, the New York Rangers will now embark on a five-game western road trip. While it is still very early in the season, the importance of this trip cannot be overlooked. It is safe to say that the Blueshirts must aim for a 3-2-0 record at the very worst on the trip. Anything less and they could be in a hole early, playing in a stacked Metropolitan division.

The road trip will start on Saturday, when the Rangers visit the Seattle Kraken, who just earned their first win of the season against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Blueshirts will then take a tour of western Canada as they face the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, and wrap things up against the Winnipeg Jets.

Related: How the 2023-24 Rangers were constructed

New York Rangers need a good road trip

NHL: New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers will not see Madison Square Garden ice again for the rest of October, leading quickly into November and shortly thereafter Thanksgiving. While a club can get hot and rise up the standings at any time, it is worth noting some statistics in terms of where teams stand at the start of the holiday season.

Per USA Today, 76.3 percent of NHL teams in playoff spots on Thanksgiving Day make the postseason, dating all the way back to the 2005-06 season. This is why coaches stress the importance of winning early on, and why this five game road trip is crucial for the Rangers. A poor trip is a setback, though doesn’t mean all is lost, of course. The Rangers will play eight games in November before Thanksgiving, and another four immediately after before the calendar flips to December.

But that Thanksgiving date remains important.

In an special, Mark Recchi said, “Though the playoff field isn’t set in stone, we need to be doing everything possible to be in a playoff position by Thanksgiving because history showed us if you are you’ll have a great chance of getting in. I remember diving deep into it because of how important that stat is,” he explained. ” When we first started talking about it, I thought it was incredible and I just couldn’t believe it. It was really mind-blowing and eye-opening to see that stat.”

This five-game road trip just got much more important, didn’t it? The Rangers will need to adjust and limit the mistakes they have been making early this season.

“It’s important to get the road trip started on the right foot. Learn from our mistakes today and be ready for the next game,” was the message from Adam Fox after the loss to Nashville.

While some of these early struggles can be attributed to adjusting to the new systems, veteran Chris Kreider doesn’t think so. When asked if the team was still trying to learn the system, he simply said, “Nope. We got the system. We have to move our feet.”

It is one thing to not be comfortable within the system, it is another to not put forth effort. This is something the Rangers desperately need to address heading into the road trip. While the Kraken are off to a rocky start, they have proven to be a solid team after an impressive playoff run last season. The Flames and Oilers always seem to give the Rangers a tough time as well. Vancouver has had multiple offensive explosions to start the year, and Winnipeg is no pushover either.

The Rangers will need to tighten it up on this trip if they want to come away with a winning record. One note to keep in mind is that backup goaltender Jonathan Quick will make his first start as a Ranger at some point during this trip. Quick played well in relief of Igor Shesterkin against the Predators, stopping all nine shots he faced in 26:07.

“I thought he was good,” Laviolette mentioned. “He came in, he made some big saves, he had some tough looks just because of what we were doing in front of him. I just think him getting in the game and he had been out for a little, so to get him in the game as we move on the road, I thought that was an important thing.”

While it is still very early in the season, the success or failure of this five game trip can have a lasting impact for the Blueshirts.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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