The New York Rangers have prided themselves on defense over the past few seasons. But this season has been different, and the defense has seemed to disappear.
The Rangers have one of the most talented back ends in the NHL. Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh are as good a pair as there is in the league. Marc Staal is back to playing at an All-Star level, and players like John Moore and Anton Stralman play solid hockey. Michael Del Zotto is a player who has great potential but struggles with inconsistency. So why have the Rangers given up a whopping 15 goals in three games?
It isn’t about the actual defenseman. It is about team defense. Too many times this year the Rangers have looked absolutely lost in their own zone. Now, no one knows if it is the new system Alain Vigneault has implemented that has made the Rangers look miserable in their own zone, but it has to be. I can’t remember the last time the Rangers gave up nine goals in three games, let alone one game. But that’s what happened last night against the San Jose Sharks. The Rangers have lost the pride they take in defending their own net, and they even give up more odd man rushes than I have ever seen.
Last season the Rangers closed out their season with the same roster they have now, so clearly the answer to why the defense is gone is the new coach. But Vigneault better get back to preaching defense or this Rangers team is in for a long season.