Monday, October 17, 2011

Taking A Step Back From The Ledge After Rangers Slow Start

At 0-1-2 with three subpar performances under their belt it is ok to be upset with the New York Rangers and how they have started the 2010-11 season.  However, the level at which some are sounding off and looking for a lifeboat is a little out there.  The bad news is that they have had three bad outings with way too many penalties, not enough offensive chances, have failed to establish a consistent forecheck in any game, the power play still doesn’t generate enough of a threat.  

All of those things are perfectly legitimate criticisms, but even with all of those things against two very good Western Conference teams they managed to get a point out of it and against an improving Islanders team they were in the game with a shot to win in the third period.   That for me is actually a positive because it is tough to imagine that they will continue to play this poorly for the next 79 games, thus the results should improve.  That brings me to the positive things out of the first three games that seem to get ignored because the final score is all that matters for some.

Henrik Lundqvist looks locked in as he has surrendered seven goals in three games while stopping 84 shots against.  His goals against is at 2.23 and save percentage is .923 which is almost exactly where his numbers ended last season (2.28 GAA, .923 SV%).  

Derek Stepan showed he can be the answer to the questions surrounding the top line left winger as he looked like he had been playing with Gaborik and Richards since training camp opened.  Gaborik and Richards have shown excellent early chemistry with one another as Gaborik is skating like he did during the 2009-10 season and Richards passes allow him to take advantage of that burst.  Obviously the line will have to be more impactful throughout games than they have been in the first three, but the seeds are there for a special line that can carry an offense.

The play of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh has been phenomenal and while there have been breakdowns from other defenders, the way the defense has played without Staal at all and no Sauer against the Islanders should be somewhat encouraging.  Losing two of the top four defenders is something that would cripple most teams, but the Rangers have battled through reasonably well in the early going.

It is easy to go nuts over the 0-1-2 record and the overall uninspiring performances of the team thus far, but just like 3-0-0 doesn’t mean you are going to be having a parade in June, 0-1-2 does not mean you will miss the playoffs and the world is over.  There are 79 games to go in the season, so let us all take a step back, look at what is and what is not working and realize there are 2 points to be had in the next game.