Rangers must stay the course this season despite glaring issues

Lundqvist struggling (A.J. Causi/nyp)

Things are bad for the Rangers…real bad. Three straight losses is one thing, but allowing 16 goals in the process is another. Henrik Lundqvist is struggling mightily to make saves he normally stops in his sleep. The defense has regressed into a clown car circus act with no end in sight. What can the Rangers do to change it up?

Nothing! They should so absolutely nothing this season.

Dispelling the same arguments

“We can’t just throw this season away!” and “Our window to win is closing!” are the two most likely reasons fans will argue for a change right now. Well, if those changes include trading a single one of our young forwards I am dead against it.

Girardi watches Lundqvist save (Getty)

Let’s first address the “We can’t just throw this season away!” argument. No one is throwing this season away at the moment. This team isn’t giving up and packing it in…they are slumping…it happens. The biggest issue is Lundqvist is not playing close to his standards. Matter of fact, he’s been awful. Blame the defense all you want, and rightly so…but he has to make a big save and right now he can’t.

Now the big one, “Our window to win is closing!”. This is the Rangers 90th season and there doesn’t appear to be an end to the NHL or their existence anytime soon, so the window is technically always open. The only window that appears to be closing is that of Lundqvist’s winning the Cup in NY. So if at the root your argument that’s your reason to make a big change now…well you’d be wrong.

Matter of fact, with goalie prospects like Igor Shestyorkin and Brandon Halverson waiting in the wings, I strongly disagree. As Ryan Graves and Sean Day get ready to become primetime NHL defensemen, I think our prospects of winning in 2-3 years grows with or without Lundqvist. That is if you keep these young forwards together.

One Defenseman Isn’t Solving Anything

Shattenkirk (STL)

For those willing to trade J.T. Miller for either a Jacob Trouba or a Kevin Shattenkirk let me point you to Anthony Duclair and a 1st rd pick for Keith Yandle. How did that work out? Enough said, regardless of your current opinion of Duclair’s struggles.

No one defenseman is going to fix this train wreck on the blue line. Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein are not going to be part of the solution, so they need to be replaced. Either trading Klein at the deadline or exposing him to the expansion draft has to happen. As far as Girardi goes, he would have to waive his clause to expose himself to Vegas. Even if he does, Vegas likely won’t take him. That means a cap biting buyout is likely the only way out.

The fixes to this defense will require keeping Holden and signing Kevin Shattenkirk in July to play with Ryan McDonagh. Then let Graves or Day compete for the 6th spot on defense to play with Skjei.

The bottom line is this…keep Miller, Hayes, Vesey, Kreider, Zibanejad and Buchnevich together. These are potentially our future top 2 lines for the next 5 years.

Fire AV?

Vigneault (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

This would be one move that I can live with it, so as long as the coach they replace AV with can take young players to the next level. If they were to keep AV, I’d be fine with that as well.

It’s hard to argue the success he has had both in Vancouver and NY. For all the shots taken at him on how he treats young players, I see Vesey, Buchnevich, Miller and Hayes getting tons of ice time in big situations. The fact that his personnel on defense has been relatively the same has nothing to do with him…that’s on the GM.

Is firing the coach the answer here? If my choice is between that and trading any of the young forwards….drop the axe.

Conclusion

Fans are in panic. Lundqvist Loyalists are screaming at the top their lungs for something to be done. It’s times like these where leaders keep their heads and do what’s right for the long term. I believe GM, Jeff Gorton is that leader.

As much as I would love to see Lundqvist victorious on Broadway, it’s more important that I get to see another Cup before my social security kicks in. Hurry please.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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