Rangers know they’re not playing very good hockey lately

New York Rangers Gerard Gallant
Feb 25, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Rangers Gerard Gallant argues with referee Jacob Brenk (26) against the Washington Capitals in the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are looking for ways to improve their game despite a three-game road trip that saw the club grab five out of six points.

Most hockey teams would be satisfied winning two out of three games on the road, including an overtime loss. Even thought they did that, it’s the way the team performed that has the head coach acknowledging the team hasn’t been playing their best hockey.

“We haven’t played well,” Gerard Gallant said. “We admit to that, but we’re still winning hockey games, too. Tonight, we still got a point against a real good team over there. We’re battling hard. So we’ve got to be better. We know that. I think everybody in that room knows it. They got a good sign in the third period and hopefully in the next game we’ll play a full 60 minutes like that.”

New York Rangers need to get it together

new york rangers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Blueshirts won two out of the three games, a 4-3 shootout win in Montreal followed by a 2-1 overtime win in Buffalo. Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins was the third straight game in which the team never had a lead.

In all three games, the Rangers needed a late goal to tie the game and force extra hockey to determine a winner.

The last time the Rangers held a lead in a game was on March 2nd against the Ottawa Senators, 10 days and five games ago. Vladimir Tarasenko scored a second-period goal at 14:54 giving his team a 3-2 lead. The Senators came back to win the game 5-3.

Gerard Gallant looking for answers

The Rangers’ struggles date back prior to the Patrick Kane trade. The team was forced to play with a reduced lineup due to “roster management”, injuries, and the suspension of K’Andre Miller.

Following the trade for Kane, the Rangers did not have a practice with their newest superstar on the ice until March 7th.

“The first two games with not much practice time, having some time off away from the rink, it probably could have gone a little bit better,” Kane said. “But it’s nice to get a few practices in.”

A lack of scoring and poor defense can be attributed to the reasons why wins have become so hard to come by.

In the five games that Patrick Kane has worn the team’s sweater, they’ve scored 13 goals while allowing 16 (Kane has scored two of the 13).

The goaltending by both Igor Shesterkin and Jarslov Halak is the reason the team was successful during the road trip. Their play far exceeded the play of the team in front of them which allowed the Blueshirts to steal all five of the points they recorded on the road trip.

Line shuffling has become as normal as tying ice skates. Gallant has tried to keep the line combinations together, but a lack of production combined with players forcing the puck into areas they shouldn’t be considering has compelled the coach to alter lines mid-game over the last two contests.

“You’re putting your lines together and you hope you can roll with them,” he explained. “We’re playing okay, but we’ve got to be better than okay. We’ve got to get it together and hopefully I won’t have to mess with the lines. I’m not going to put up with it for very much longer if there’s going to be all these turnovers and two-on-ones against. You can’t keep doing that. You want to trust your players. You want to give them a chance, and that’s what we’re doing.”

16 games remain in the 2022-2023 season. The coaching staff and the players need to figure out what works and start to get ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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