Rangers Recall: Short defensive lapses a full blown concern

NHL: New York Rangers at Vegas Golden Knights
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have a problem that must be corrected before it becomes a staple of who they are heading into the playoffs. Per the NY Post’s Larry Brooks, in Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, it was the eighth time this season the Blueshirts gave up a two goals around 30 seconds apart.

Matter of fact, the Rangers have a penchant for giving up goals in bunches of late. While Brooks was talking about Vegas’ third and fourth goals towards the end of the second period that essentially put the nail in the Rangers coffin, they have given up a number of goals within the span of minutes in the 2023-24 campaign.

Lets’ dive in further on this very important issue.

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Rangers Recall: Dealing with momentum swings

NHL: New York Rangers at Vegas Golden Knights
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

After the Blueshirts dominated the first half of the opening period, Igor Shesterkin let in a soft goal off the rush. That seemed to sap the energy out of his teammates, who then proceeded to forget how to play defense and watched another Knight score from an odd-man rush just 3:13 later. New York ultimately chased the game and never had a chance after these scores.

For some reason this season, the Rangers struggle to deal with momentum swings when the pendulum goes in the wrong direction. Instead of settling things down, the team feels some incredible need to try and strike back. That’s led to them throwing caution to the wind defensively, and watch as teams double down on their mental lapses.

In their previous loss before Thursday, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals, they entered the third period up by one goal. Then in the blink of an eye, the Caps scored twice within 1:53.

Ouch!

Prior to that, New York was up 1-0 in St. Louis before Jordan Kyrou decided to take advantage of the fragile Rangers’ psyche with two goals late in the first period just 3:28 apart. He went on to get a hat trick to help knock off the visitors 5-2.

What’s going on?

The best example of this mess was an embarrassing 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on home ice the game prior. The Blueshirts opened the scoring, but watched the visitors score twice just 53 seconds after Vincent Trocheck tallied. Those goals came within 2:14 of each other, but the Rangers lapsed again in the second period with two Canucks striking 64 seconds apart.

Doh!

Peter Laviolette has done a great job in his first year as Rangers coach. He’s spoken about the mental mistakes this team has made often in the last few weeks. However, that has not translated into a consistent noticeable improvement on the ice since he pointed it out.

While it is ultimately up to the players to fix this, it’s incumbent on the coach to make the appropriate in games moves to address the issue as it’s happening. Aside from line juggling, Laviolette has one tool at his disposal many coaches don’t like to use known as a timeout. NHL coaches feel they absolutely need to save it just in case they it’s a one-goal game with a minute to play. Often times, countless NHL games conclude with neither coach using the timeout at their disposal, probably because the window to change the momentum of a game has long passed.

At the end of the day, the next time the Rangers are dominating the start of a contest, only to see the opposition score off an average chance, maybe Laviolette should call a timeout and settle his charges down before they implode again.

Friendly reminder, timeouts don’t accumulate as the season progresses.

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