After looking rather flat at times during their home opener against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, the New York Rangers were back on the road one day later. But, it was not a long road trip as they were playing their rivals on Long Island, the New York Islanders.
What I found very weird about this game was that the Rangers dominated a usually very hard-working Islanders team in all three periods. Of course, if you were to look at the scoreboard, you would not get that impression. The Rangers did win by a 3-2 score in regulation time, but they continued to struggle at scoring goals. Three goals is actually a lot from a Rangers’ standpoint, but with the amount of scoring chances they had all game, the score could have been 5-2 or even 6-2.
Carl Hagelin did play his first game of the season against the Islanders and made his presence felt throughout, but without Rick Nash and captain Ryan Callahan, this Rangers team will continue to struggle to score, which is why the defense-first game plan of the Rangers has to stay. Another must for the team is to show consistency.
While it was a great win for the Rangers and us fans, we cannot allow ourselves to get carried away. With all the injuries and the team learning a new system under new head coach Alain Vigneault, we do not know which Rangers team is going to show up on a game-to-game basis.
They played great in Michigan vs the Detroit Red Wings, yet got shut out in their home opener against the Canadiens. The very next day, they played great vs. the Islanders from start to finish. Their next game is on Thursday and it will be the Rangers’ second home game of the season, this time facing the Buffalo Sabres.
This is a Sabres team that is 2-11-1 on the season so far, but they cannot be underestimated. The Sabres have some good young talent and now with the added help of a hard-working veteran forward in Matt Moulson, they can easily surprise the Rangers if they are not ready. Since the Rangers have failed to win two games in a row all season and have failed to maintain any type of consistency game-to-game, fans shouldn’t look too far ahead.
Yes, it was a great come-from-behind win against the Islanders and Chris Kreider looked very good again, but there is no game that we can honestly say is a definite win until the Rangers to string together solid performances. They cannot underestimate the Sabres or any other team, and must play hard game in and game out in order to be taken seriously.