Quick Hits – Rangers vs Sharks 10/23/17

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Here is our Quick Hits recap of the Rangers 4-1 loss to the Sharks.

Mika Zibanejad – It was the only bright spot because it was the Rangers goal, but it was more of a consolation prize in this carnival of misery. After winning the faceoff, Zibanejad took the puck and shot one over the pad of Martin Jones. The goal was Zibanejad’s sixth of the year, and he has been the lone Rangers forward to be a threat offensively this season.

Pavel Buchnevich – Something tells me that if Buchnevich had known that he’d be glued to the fourth line when he came over from Russia, he may have stayed in his home country. Since being taken off the line with Zibanejad and Kreider, the young Russian has seen his ice time be restricted to the power play, for the most part. In this game, Buchnevich had 15:37 of ice time, which isn’t terrible. But when you consider that 5:09 of that time was with the Rangers on the man-advantage, it suddenly becomes less impressive. But with all of that being said, Buchnevich is doing his best to get his head coach to notice him and utilize him more often. Buch had five shots on net, never missed the net, and had the assist on Mika Zibanejad’s goal by forcing the turnover and winning the board battle. Buchnevich has done everything the coaching staff has asked of him, but at some point, the coaching staff needs to have questions asked of them.

“At some point there I think we should have just tried to get simple and put some rims behind him and try and win some battles.” – Ryan McDonagh

Powerless Power Play – Coming into the season, the Rangers PP was supposed to be much improved with the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk. However, when you can’t get the puck over the blue line and set up in the offensive zone, it wouldn’t matter if you had Wayne Gretzky running your power play. The Rangers continued to use the drop pass, even though the Sharks stopped it time and again. Part of it is on the players, but part of it is on the coaching staff not making the proper adjustments.

“We’re 10 games in here and we’re 2-6-2. Everybody in that room has got to be better than they are right now.” – Alain Vigneault

Missed Shots – For all of the Rangers struggles this season, if they would just hit the net more often, they may be in a better position. They are fifth in the NHL with 114 missed shots, and they are -37 in shot attempts for vs. against. Even if the Rangers would hit the net on 40% of these shots, they would be in the top-15 in the NHL, instead of sitting at 25th in the league in this category. This may sound ridiculous, but if you don’t hit the net you won’t score, and the Rangers will need to start scoring if they have any hopes of turning this season around.

Alain Vigneault – I was thinking about calling this item coaching staff or slow starts, but it wouldn’t point to what I think is the real problem, so here goes nothing. AV has got to go. As I’ve said before, I am not one to call for the firing of head coaches, but this team looks like a fish out of water mixed with a chicken without it’s head. The team is lifeless, always seems to not be ready to play at puck drop, and because of that, are constantly chasing the game.

When we’re in the position we’re in, of course when we start the game chasing, it’s just so much harder.” – Henrik Lundqvist

Yes, the players do share some of the blame for not being ready to play when they come out of the dressing room. But the coaching staff’s job is to make sure their guys are prepared mentally and physically for the game ahead of them. I can’t say for certain that AV has lost the room, but his team certainly doesn’t seem to be responding to whatever messages he is giving them. They say that it’s always darkest before dawn. Dawn better come pretty soon; otherwise this could be the modern-day version of the Biblical plague of darkness.

NEXT GAME: The Rangers will be welcoming back some familiar faces on thursday when Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta and the Arizona Coyotes come to MSG. Puck drops at 7!


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