5 Reasons Why New York Rangers Are Off To Such A Poor Start To 2013-14 Season
5 Reasons Why The New York Rangers Are Off To A Poor Start To 2013-14 Season
The New York Rangers were a team going into this 2013-14 season with high expectations of contending for a Stanley Cup championship. After making it to the Eastern Conference finals two seasons ago, the Rangers took a step backward by losing in the second round of the playoffs last season, and fired defensive-minded head coach John Tortorella as a result. The team replaced him with the more offensive-minded Alain Vigneault. This change was supposed to spark the Rangers to take more chances in the offensive zone while still paying attention to the defensive side of the game, and as a result become a legitimate threat and contender for the Stanley Cup this season.
Well, after the opening eight games, never mind Stanley Cup, but I do not even think playoffs should be mentioned in the same sentence with this team right now. With a 2-6 record and finishing off their ninth and final game of this long road trip to start the season tonight at the Detroit Red Wings, it is accurate to say that this team could be looking at a 2-7 record going into the team's home opener on Monday.
With all of this being said, you have to keep in mind that the Rangers have had some major injuries so far this season and have yet to play a single home game. Still, as a Rangers fan, I do not make excuses for the team. So injuries aside, here are five main reasons why the Rangers are off to such a poor start this 2013-14 season.
Goaltending is a position that has been a strength for the Rangers for years now, as Henrik Lundqvist has been and still is the backbone of this franchise. But whether it is his current injury or contract situation, Lundqvist has just looked awful thus far. Being out of position and allowing soft goals that an average goaltender would save is something we are not used to seeing from Lundqvist. He must get better and he knows it.
While this is arguably the most important position on the ice, I only have this reason at no. 5 because Lundqvist has shown during his entire career that he has the ability to bounce back. Frankly, out of everything wrong with the Rangers, I feel the most confident in that Lundqvist will figure things out.
4. Forcheck Pressure
Where is the forecheck?
Under Tortorella, the Rangers always forchecked and put pressure on the opposing team. But now under Vigneault, the Rangers seem to be passive on this part of their game and not supply constant pressure, which allows opposing offenses to set up plays and execute at the Rangers' expense.
3. Alain Vigneault's System
New head coach Alain Vigneault's overall system is reason no. 3 because I still have yet to figure out what it is exactly. If giving up more goals then you are scoring and losing games is the system, then I would say the Rangers are succeeding.
Right now, it looks as if the Rangers' players have freedom to do whatever they want and skate around like a bunch of zombies with no given direction. Vigneault has said he wants to be a puck possession team, but how can that be possible if they do not constantly put some sustained forecheck pressure on the opposing team?
This system perplexes me to no end, but hopefully the players can figure it out soon, whatever it is.
The bottom line is that no matter what system you play it, the whole object of the game of hockey is to score goals and score more than the other team. Other than Brad Richards, the Rangers' offense has been non-existent. It's funny since Vigneault was brought here to improve the Rangers' offense, but I digress.
Now, the Rangers have had three major injuries at the forward position to Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin and the team captain Ryan Callahan, but for a team that supposedly had good depth this year, 12 goals in eight games is inexcusable.
Also, the Rangers' leading point producer last season, Derek Stepan, has been playing but is nowhere to be found on most nights. When players are injured, it is up for the rest of the team to up their game, and for the best forward on the team last year to be playing like he is uninspired in unforgivable. Maybe he shouldn't have held out of training camp this year because right now, Stepan is not worth anywhere close to being worth his new $6.15 million contract.
The saying is "defense wins championships" for a reason. It might be hard to score goals, but it is easy to give them up. So far this season, the Rangers have handing out goals like Halloween candy.
Remember when I said the Rangers' offense have scored only 12 goals through eight games? Well, in those same eight games, the Rangers have surrendered and unbelievable 31 goals. Even a good offensive team could not win games giving up that many in only an eight-game span.
Many might think offense is the Rangers biggest problem and rightfully so, but when you dig beneath the surface, you will find that the Rangers' defense is what is letting them down so far this season. How deflating do you think it is for an offense to always be down 1-0? It definitely takes a toll on a player, so before the offense is corrected, the Rangers have to be sound defensively, and that is why I believe defense is the no. 1 reason why the Rangers are off to such a poor start in 2013-14.