The Rangers Can’t Win On Talent Alone
This may sound obvious and unnecessary to point out, but the Rangers aren’t going to win anything if they only rely on their talent. This is not to say that the Rangers don’t have talented players on their team. However, it seems like some of their players have relied solely on their skill, as opposed to putting in that extra effort that won’t show up on the scoresheet.
This is not some new concept that’s coming out of left field. I have been saying for a while that if the Rangers had 18 skaters who played like Jesper Fast, they’d be in a much better position as a franchise. Not giving up in the corners, playing smart defensively, and not taking a single shift off are things that some of the Rangers more skilled players should be doing.
And this idea has been proven time and again this year by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. They are currently awaiting either the Nashville Predators or Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference Final, proving all the experts wrong in their inaugural NHL season. The Golden Knights are a team of castaways, or as they call themselves the Golden Misfits, all playing with a chip on their shoulder to prove their former employers wrong and show they belong in the NHL. Guys like William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault have all had career years playing in Vegas. Could it just be a change of scenery and an expanded role on a new NHL franchise? Possibly. But if you watch this team play, as we have gotten to do more and more during the playoffs, you see that they are putting in the work to get those goals. These guys don’t stop skating, don’t stop hounding the puck, and go into the corners as determined as possible to win the puck battle.
Vegas has a full team of Jesper Fast-like players, starting from their goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and out to the skaters in front of him. Vegas has shown that if you take away the reliance on skill and put in the work that got you there in the first place, your team will be much better off.
As we all know, the Rangers are in a transition period that will show us their mental makeup when nobody is going to give them a chance. If the Rangers can play like Vegas by not taking shifts off and doing whatever it takes to win games, this rebuild might be quicker than expected.