The biggest story of game for the New York Rangers in their win over the Ottawa Senators was that they exploded for eight goals in an 8-4 win. While that is a huge positive for the offensively-challenged team, there was a glaring negative that the Rangers must rectify immediately. This negative, believe it or not, was the play of their defense.
The Rangers’ defense could have just had an off night but with the regular season coming to a close very soon. However, with points at a premium and the Rangers fighting for a playoff spot, off nights just cannot happen.
Granted, the Senators do have a lot of offensive talent, but that is no excuse for leaving guys wide open in front of the net with literally no Ranger in sight, and leaving goaltender Henrik Lundqvist out to fend for himself. The Rangers’ team defense last night was just atrocious, but thanks to Lundqvist and the offense, the Rangers’ defense got bailed out.
The lack of team defense that was shown cannot become a lazy habit down the stretch if the Rangers want to make the playoffs this season. The Senators are currently not a playoff-caliber team — so just imagine what the outcome of the games would be if the Rangers’ defense played the same way against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are only two points back in the standings, or the Philadelphia Flyers, who are currently one point ahead?
The Rangers were lucky they were playing a struggling team, but teams like the Flyers and Blue Jackets won’t be so forgiving.