I do not care what team you are facing — there is no such thing as an easy win in the NHL.
The New York Rangers found that out last night in their game against the Florida Panthers. New York did end up winning the game in regulation by a 4-3 score, but they were outplayed in numerous stretches of the game by the Panthers and need to take their performance vs. Florida as a learning experience.
The Panthers entered into last night’s game on an eight-game losing streak. You would figure that would make them ripe for the taking, but that was not necessarily true. Just the other day, the Panthers fired their head coach, and more times than not, players respond to a coaching change by giving 100 percent, especially in the beginning. So, the Panthers playing a hard-fought game against the Rangers was expected in my opinion.
However, when you compare rosters, the Rangers just outmatch the Panthers in every single position on paper and for Florida to come close to forcing overtime and maybe even winning last night — on the road in New York no less — should definitely concern the Rangers.
That concern, though, might not be what you think it is. Believe it or not, the Rangers have been getting more offensive scoring chances for themselves lately and for once, there are no major problems with their offense and power play as of late as they continue to improve.
Shockingly, it has been the Rangers’ defense that should have fans worried. I have noticed over the past couple of games, especially against the Panthers, that the Rangers’ defense have been very loose and are allowing way too many prime scoring opportunities.
Overall, both teams played a very sloppy game. I do not want it to sound like the Panthers played perfectly and the Rangers were lucky to win, because that was not true. Last night’s game was filled with turnovers galore on both sides but at this point, you just come to expect more from the Rangers.
Not only were the Rangers committing turnovers, but taking bad penalties as well. Late in the first period, Brian Boyle took an unnecessary hooking penalty in the offensive zone that led to a Panthers power play goal to tie up the game at one. Nearing the final minute of play in the third period, Chris Kreider picked the wrong time to defend a teammate and took a really dumb cross-checking penalty, which could have led to the game-tying goal, but the Rangers were able to survive.
In short, their defense has not been up to standards lately, especially last night, and I think it definitely needs to tighten up immediately. Hopefully being given a scare by a three-win Panthers team is an eye-opener for this Rangers team.