Rangers need to kick this bad habit soon

NHL: New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

What started as a string of games in which the New York Rangers surrendered the first goal has now become a concerning bad habit. It was highlighted again in Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders, where the Rangers were down 3-0 after the first period.

“I thought the second and third were much better,” said Jacob Trouba. “We didn’t match the intensity in the first period. Once we got our game up to speed, I thought the second and third were much better for us, just not enough.”

The Rangers have allowed the first goal in 10 of its last 13 games. Despite going 10-3-0 during that stretch, it could cost them once the playoffs begin.

This has been a season-long problem with the Rangers, who have just a plus-1 goal differential in the first period; they’re plus-24 in the third.

Stats via NHL.com

New York’s 27 comeback wins has played a big role in their 110 points to lead the NHL. And while its a positive that the Rangers are never out of a game, better starts are need to make a long run in the playoffs.

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Rangers need to have better starts

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers
Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Per NHL.com, excluding last year’s playoffs, the team scoring first in Game 7 of a series holds a record of 143-47 all time and a winning percentage of .753. So, while winning many games this season giving up the first goal is great, it isn’t a recipe for success.

If the Rangers want to make a serious push for a Stanley Cup, they’ll have to find a way to take leads early. Momentum becomes even more of a factor this time of year, and scoring first certainly helps in that department.

“I think it’s a mindset of playing 60 minutes,” explained Laviolette following Sunday’s game against Montreal. “The first 20 minutes goes by, and the scoreboard is not reflecting what we want it to reflect. I do think we got better as the game went on.”

Getting better as the game goes on has been a recurring theme. The Rangers need to focus on playing at a high level out of the gate during these final three games.

“There have been some starts that I haven’t liked,” Laviolette continued. “But if I’m being honest, not that many. There’s always things that you talk about in stretches. Giving up too many goals in the first period, whatever it might be, there’s always these stretches, and you address them. I don’t think it’s been a major issue.”

Putting a positive spin on an issue has been effective for Laviolette all season. That being said, playing from behind in the playoffs is a serious challenge for any team, and there’s no way he’ll be able to spin an early ouster after the year the Rangers have posted.

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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