The New York Rangers Breakout Proves Costly (Again)
The New York Rangers are in trouble. It’s not because of questionable moves, it’s not about ice time, it’s not because of bad goaltending. The team is in trouble because they are currently unable to do the little things that win games.
The ability to execute the fundamentals of the game is biggest separating factor in player level; players are taught at a young age the most important aspects of the game. Once a player masters these parts of the game all the other aspects such as flare get added in.
Currently the team does not do the simplest and most important thing: breaking out of their own zone.
Exit at your own risk
The Blueshirts have not look great to start this season. The shuffling of players, lines, and scratches have not helped either. Henrik Lundqvist has looked strong to start the season, the power play looks much improved and the overall team speed is unfathomable. Yet the breakout somehow continues to be a big issue. Long stretch passes that either don’t connect or get intercepted thus leading to scoring chances for the opposition.
The biggest problem with consistently relying on stretch passes to breakout is the need for perfection. There is a predictability aspect of this style that allows teams to stop the breakout. During the loss to the St. Louis Blues the Rangers carried the puck out of their zone once; and it was by newly acquired Adam Cracknell, a forward.
Even the first period disallowed goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets came from a bad breakout. Top back end players have started the season with forced outlet passes from their zone
The signing of Kevin Shattenkirk was made in order to stretch the ice. Apparently every defense-man thinks that their job is to do this, because they constantly force passes to forwards that does little to nothing for the team. Several times during the game against the Blues the Rangers had plenty of ice to skate the puck out of the zone and then either make a quick breakout pass or even dump and chase; I know, old school hockey term.
Reliving several goals against this season, it comes from the defense-man looking to make the long pass up the ice. When it works it can lead to an odd man rush and potentially a quick goal. The key word there is “when.” More often than it should the pass doesn’t work and leads to a great chance for the opposition.
Keep it simple
Breaking out really is the most important part of the game. If a team can’t break out of their zone then they can’t play offensively. The defense-men need to be smarter, the coaches need to adjust, and have the back end just skate the puck out of the zone.
The team also has this crazy infatuation with trying to clear the puck up the middle of the ice. Players at a young age are taught clearing up the middle of the ice is a cardinal sin. There’s no excuse for a professional hockey player to commit this error. Use the boards, make the safe play and take care of the puck. It’s a simple easy fix that shouldn’t need to be made; but before any roster moves are made, before any players are evaluated, before the next shuffle of the lineup, this is the most important change needed.
The New York Rangers are in trouble. In sports it’s adapt or die and the team could be six feet under very soon if they don’t clean it up.