The New York Rangers inconsistent start to the NHL season has left many people frustrated, from the fans all the way down to the players. First, they couldn’t seem to score enough goals while on a mammoth road trip to open the year. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist struggled a bit early on as well, while the team also lost star forward Rick Nash to a concussion that kept him sidelined from early October until last night.
They eventually went on a small tear in which they won eight of 11 games. However, last night was a step backwards. Despite severely out-playing the Boston Bruins, as well as out-shooting them 44-22, the Rangers lost 2-1. Once again, the struggles to put the puck in the net continued, as only Derick Brassard was the only player to get a puck past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
As if a lack of offense wasn’t enough, now Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault seems to be calling out members on his roster. He pulled no shots during his recent critique of defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
“I have been told he is a much better player,” Vigneault said of Del Zotto. “I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis.
“We’ll see how he responds.”
Yikes. There doesn’t seem to be much gray area there. Del Zotto, who was able to generate 21 points in 46 games last season, has just four in 16 games this year. As a result, he’s been a healthy scratch for the past three games, supposedly returning Thursday against the Dallas Stars.
As to how Del Zotto responds, well, it just depends on how thick his skin is. There are many players who respond to criticism in a positive way, adding a chip on their shoulder and playing with the goal of proving critics wrong. Others, though, might lose confidence knowing that their coach is flat out unimpressed with their performance. We’ll find out which group Del Zotto is in the next time he takes the ice.
To be fair, it’s not like the majority of this Rangers team has no idea what being called out by your coach is like. Remember, just six months ago it was former coach John Tortorella claiming he wasn’t playing forward Carl Hagelin on the power play because “he stinks.” Something like Vigneault’s comments should be a walk in the park compared to that.