Same stuff, different season. False high hopes at the start of the year lead to crashing low realities at the end.
Before the 2013-14 NHL season started for the New York Rangers, the goal was to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals as they did just two seasons before. After a disappointing 2012-13 lockout shortened season where the Rangers would get eliminated in round two, GM Glen Sather felt it was time for coaching change and a new regime to start.
This decision by Sather led to the firing of former head coach John Tortorella and his staff and subsequent hiring of ex-Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault.
The regular season started off badly for the Rangers under Vigneault. With the first nine games of the season on the road, the Rangers were only able to win three of those games. Toward the middle of the season the Rangers were able to find some traction and hit their stride, leading into the Olympic break with a 16-6-1 record in their last 23 games prior.
After the three-week Olympic break, the Rangers’ season took quite a shocking turn. Ryan Callahan, the Rangers’ captain, was traded at the trade deadline due to not being able to come to an agreement on an extension. The deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning landed their captain, Martin St. Louis, and two draft picks.
Now with Callahan struggling all season due to injuries and not being able to adjust to Vigneault’s offensive system, getting an offensive player like St. Louis seemed like the correct move to make. However, now five games in with the Rangers, St. Louis only has one measly assist and Callahan, believe it or not, already has a goal with the Lightning. Not only that, but the Lightning currently have more points than the Rangers and are in better shape to make the playoffs.
The Rangers have now dropped two disgusting games in a row without getting any points — a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes and a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild. As a result, the Rangers currently sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division. With so many teams breathing down their neck with games in hand, the Rangers are in danger of falling down to fourth place as they are only one point away from moving down another place in the standings.
With the Rangers struggling, literally every single player especially Rick Nash and Brad Richards and St. Louis failing to adjust to Vigneault’s system, the team is quickly running out of time with only 15 games left to play. I am sorry, but with the way things are looking and how the team has been playing lately, I do not think the Rangers have enough time to pull things together and hold on to a playoff spot.
So like I said, same stuff, different season. Same old Rangers.
And for the record, even if they exceed my expectations and make the playoffs, this team is showing us right now that they are not legitimate contenders and would be an easy first-round knockout. Once again another stellar job from Sather and owner James Dolan.