Rangers likely learned more from yesterday’s loss than a win could ever teach them

There was nothing exciting for the Rangers and their fans once they got past the announcement of the 2020-21 roster.

At least to start this season, no member of the Blueshirts tripped coming out. Not falling over a camera wire was a plus, but the Rangers were tripped up by their own effort all night.

Rangers Lesson 1: Own zone coverage was a nightmare

The Rangers biggest issues were in their own zone. David Quinn didn’t hold back last night in his criticism either saying they were “behind their checks all night.”

If the Rangers are going to be successful they will need to play more like the Islanders who gave them almost nothing in the middle.

Steve Valiquette was on the last episode of the podcast on Wednesday and had some prophetic analysis. He was clear that if the Rangers were going to have any success they need to commit to their play in the D-Zone.

Igor Shesterkin
Shesterkin and the Rangers fall to the Islanders (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

“The Rangers gave up more plays across the middle of the ice than anybody in the league last year,” he explained. “If they can understand that the line in the middle of the ice is the most important to defend, they can change their goaltending for the next 10 years. You don’t want your goalie multi-tasking.”

If it wasn’t obvious to everyone, the Rangers were not good with defending the middle and paid for it often. Igor Shesterkin was under siege and even run over at one point in the game. Fortunately, he escaped injury.

The number one lesson the Rangers learned will be to play better defense. If they didn’t learn that lesson, this is going to be a long season.

Rangers Lesson 2: Jack Johnson doesn’t fit on this defense

Coming into this season, many questions as to why the Rangers signed Jack Johnson were asked. Many gave the veteran the benefit of the doubt, including President John Davidson, and coaches David Quinn and Jacques Martin.

It was painfully obvious that Johnson didn’t look like a fit with Tony DeAngelo last night. He was slow, and had difficulties making even the simplest of passes.

He was brought in for his play on the PK, but struggled there too. At one point, he was down on all fours trying to prevent cross ice passes to which the Islanders had no problem getting over his prone body.

It would behoove Quinn to scratch him in favor of the somewhat quicker Brendan Smith for Saturday’s rematch against the Islanders.

Rangers Lesson 3: The kids looked good and learned the most about what it takes to play in the NHL

The most painful lesson was for the two young men who are also close friends making their NHL debuts last night. K’Andre Miller’s and Alexis Lafreniere’s excitement was quelled by learning what it takes to play in this league.

With young players you always look for “teachable moments” and last night they both got one. Miller struggled from the onset, and made nervous mistakes but settled down nicely, a credit to his partner Jacob Trouba. Towards the end of the game, he looked more confident and asserted himself.

On the other hand, Alexis Lafreniere showed the skating, shooting and skills that made him the #1 overall pick. I believe he was one of the Rangers best players all night, but he recognized that even he will need to find another gear to be successful.

Listen, they say you learn more from your mistakes than you do your successes. Last night was a mistake from the opening face-off, let’s hope they all learned something.

Today’s NHL Rumors

Lots of drama in Columbus these days.


Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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