With all the drama surrounding the Ryan Callahan situation over in New York, you would think that the New York Rangers would put that all behind them and start fresh with new superstar Martin St. Louis. Well, you would be wrong.
Despite solving the Callahan problem that head coach Alain Vigneault called a distraction to the team and their success, the Rangers lost once again on Wednesday at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs, their third loss in as many games.
The Rangers didn’t seem to struggle on the offensive side of the puck as they outshot the Leafs, and if it weren’t for Toronto’s rising star goaltender Jonathan Bernier, the Rangers would have easily won the game. While the Rangers have been outshooting their opponents in recent games, they haven’t been able to score goals, something that is crucial to winning games obviously.
The bigger problem for the Rangers has been their defense. The Rangers have struggled with team defense, leading to their games becoming “shootouts” of sorts, and their team defense letting them down as they give up better shots on goal than their opponents do.
If the Rangers are going to turn around their current skid, they are going to have to go back to good, solid fundamental team defense much like they were playing before the Olympic break. The Rangers have been manufacturing good offense and the goals will come, but at the same time they have to shut their opponents down in their defense zone and prevent their opponents from getting quality shots on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
If the Rangers can improve their team defense then the rest will fall in place. The Rangers will begin to turn their current slide around and get back to their winning ways. New York looks to turn their play around tonight against the struggling Carolina Hurricanes, a team that the Rangers should beat and frankly need to beat if they want to stay in the playoff picture. If the Rangers continue to lose and their play continues to suffer, then the team will fall out of the playoff picture very quickly in the tightly packed, competitive Eastern Conference.