Yes, it is only preseason for the New York Rangers and these games mean nothing in the standings. But in three exhibition contests, the team is 1-2. That’s not the issue, it’s being outscored 15-4 and a lack of adherence to what is supposed to be a simpler system.
“It’s disappointing,” Gerard Gallant said after a 7-1 shellacking by the Devils. “Again, it’s preseason and we will work those things out, but it’s definitely disappointment in the group effort.”
That message wasn’t to dissimilar to what he said after the Rangers dropped their preseason opener 4-0 to the Islanders. “It’s an exhibition game and I’m disappointed obviously,” he said. “We didn’t play that well, and we didn’t play hard enough. We weren’t good enough for sure.”
Two out of three games and the new coach has been disappointed in the team’s effort. Not a great start.
The New York Rangers need to step it up
In the first two exhibition games, Gallant’s top two lines were in an indication of what we are likely to see opening night.
Against the Islanders he used Zibanejad with Lafrenière and Kreider. His second line was Chytil with Goodrow and Kravtsov. The following game against Boston, he had Strome center Panarin and Kakko. And his second line was Rooney in the middle of Blais and Reaves.
On defense, Fox and Lindgren remain a pair along with Trouba and Miller. The latter were a combined -8 against NJ last night, and need a much better showing. The third pair will most likely be Nemeth and Lundkvist. For the team to have success, this defensive group needs to lead the way.
“I don’t care what game you play,” Zibanejad said after last night’s loss. “You play in your backyard and lose 7-1, you’re pissed.”
So far, he’s played in two exhibition games and experienced two losses. The combined score of each being 11-1. Zibanejad acknowledges that this is just preseason, but he wanted to make it known that the effort needs to be better.
“We are not helping each other enough,” he noted. “We’re kind of hoping that the guy with the puck finds a solution. I think the times we do support each other, we’re playing fast like we want to. We don’t do that consistently and that’s something we have to work on.”
It is just preseason but…
No one should be losing their heads over preseason losses. Especially not three games in, and with the head coach telling you that the starting lineup won’t play until the last two exhibition games.
After tonight’s game against Boston, the Rangers are expected to trim the roster closer to the opening night lineup. There are 34 players remaining in camp, but before next Wednesday’s rematch against the Devils it should be between 25-27. And possibly down to 23 for the preseason finale against the Islanders on Saturday.
Those two games mean something for the 2021-22 New York Rangers. They can lose them, but people need to see a full 60 minute effort. Gerard Gallant can’t come out of those games talking about “disappointment” and “effort”.
This team made a lot of changes to the their bottom six and third pair defense. Players need to start getting comfortable with their roles and living up to them. Remember, it was Gallant who said before camp opened that making the playoffs starts today.
If that’s the case, this Rangers team needs to really show the staff and the fans they get it. They will have two primer games next week to get it done.
Tkachuk hold out continues, and the Rangers remain the most logical destination for Eichel. Read more.