Quick Hits – Rangers vs Devils 10/14/17

Here is our Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 3-2 loss to the Devils.

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Rick Nash – In what may have been the only positive for the Rangers in this one, Rangers alternate captain Rick Nash got his first goal of the season. With the game still scoreless five minutes into the second period, Nash worked a beautiful give-and-go with David Desharnais to put the Blueshirts up 1-0. The goal was Nash’s first of the season, but with a clear breakaway chance on Kinkaid that would have pulled his team within one, Nash’s goal will be bittersweet.

Jesper Fast – One of the lynchpins of the Rangers forecheck the last few years has been Jesper Fast. After missing the preseason and beginning of the regular season recovering from offseason hip surgery, having him back in the lineup was a very welcome sight. Wearing #17 this year, Fast looked like he hadn’t missed a step since last summer. He was energetic, aggressive on the forecheck and went to the dirty areas like he always has. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; if more Rangers played like Fast, this team would be in a much better place.

Anthony DeAngelo – For a player that was already on the fringe, DeAngelo didn’t help his case much in this one. He had a couple of giveaways, was a -1 on the night, and took an unnecessary cross-checking penalty that led to the GWG by Drew Stafford just a minute into the third period. The New Jersey native needs to find the right balance between playing with an edge and crossing the line. Once he does, he can be a nice piece for the Rangers. But until then, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him much.

Puck Management – Someone needs to tell the Rangers, that if they don’t control the puck they won’t win many games. For a team with so much promise coming into the season, not only are they proving the pundits right, who predicted the team as Wild Card at best, they are playing below expectations. The Rangers have the most giveaways in the NHL, 82, with the next closest team at 70. The bigger problem though is that a lot of those turnovers are coming in the defensive zone. Whether it is a bad clear or a breakout pass that is off the mark, the pucks are ending up at best as another chance stopped by the Rangers’ goalies, and at worse in the back of the net.

But even in the offensive zone, the Rangers are too busy looking for the extra pass or the “not smart” pass. For instance, with Mika Zibanejad coming down 2v1 in the third period, he opted to pass from below the circles/top of the crease, when he had a clear shooting chance. Getting the puck to the net is one of the first things you’re taught as a hockey player, and the Rangers need to start doing that more. Don’t worry about pulling off the crazy passing play; get the greasy goals and build from there.

“It’s been the story thus far of our season, and there’s no one to blame but ourselves, the guys in this room here, the guys in the lineup every night. We know what’s expected of us, and we’re simply not performing.” – Ryan McDonagh

Ondrej Pavelec – The Rangers netminder wasn’t tested much, only facing 19 Devils’ shots, but he allowed three goals on the night. The first two goals came off of Rangers’ turnovers in their own zone, and the third was scored with the Rangers shorthanded. Pavelec was put into a bad position by his teammates, and the goals he gave up were on shots that would’ve been hard for any goaltender to stop.

Alain Vigneault – Something has got to give with the Rangers head coach. The Blueshirts are off to one of their worst starts in recent memory, and the team looks broken. The Rangers have not been able to put a full 60 minutes together, and seem to come out for the next period the exact opposite of how they finished the previous one. It could be that the team has stopped listening to the Rangers head coach, or that the players aren’t sticking to the system, but either way, things are going to change if the Rangers don’t start picking up the points.

Another thing Vigneault hasn’t been able to do yet is find the right line combinations. Normally, six games into the season, that will tend to happen. But the Rangers haven’t found a line combination outside of the Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich trio to put the puck in the net at even strength with any consistency. This team is struggling in a big way, and if things don’t change in the next week or so, AV, and others could be on their way off Broadway.

NEXT GAME: The Blueshirts will look to get back in the win column at MSG on Tuesday night against the Penguins. Puck drops at 7!

LETS GO RANGERS!!