Through the team’s first seven games, they are 2-5 and currently have the third worst record in their conference. This is not how things were supposed to start for the team and their new head coach Alain Vigneault.
It is clear that the Blueshirts are struggling in every area of the game so far. Believe it or not, the team’s problems start with their defense and goaltending.
In seven games, the Rangers have allowed 29 goals. This has them in an unfamiliar place in that category, which is last in the league.
For the past several seasons, the team was one of the best in terms of their defensive play. They blocked a lot of shots, did a great job of clearing loose pucks, broke up a lot of odd man rushes and provided great support to Henrik Lundqvist.
This season, however, there has not been much of any of that. On the goals that have been scored against them this season, they have often been caught out of position, have not picked-up the extra man or trailer on the play and have actually looked lost on certain plays in the game.
Part of their struggles might actually have to do with the play of their start netminder. Lundqvist is having trouble finding the game that has made him so successful to the point and even admitted to ESPNNewYork.com hockey writer Katie Strang that he is having trouble focusing.
In seven games, Lundqvist is 2-4 with a 3.45 goals against average, a .890 save percentage and one shutout. These are certainly not the kind of numbers that the team and their fans are used to seeing.
"I don't want to over-analyze it. There are a few things I need to work on, but I think mostly it's the way I focus," he said. "When I play well, my focus is really crisp and I'm making good decisions. I feel like right now, it's a little up and down in how well I make decisions out there."
Lastly, the team is once again struggling to put pucks in the net. The team has already been shutout twice this season in seven games and has scored just 11 goals this season, which has them ranked 28th in the league in that category.
Obviously, it is easy to point out that both Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin have all missed a lot of games this season due to their various injuries. With that said, however, that should not be a regularly used excuse.
This team still has the likes of Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, and Benoit Pouliot, who should all be able to produce. Simply put, with the exception of Brad Richards who leads the team in scoring with seven points (four goals and three assists), no one else on the team has stepped up to the plate and produced offensively.
Nowadays, it is extremely important to get off to a good start in this league because if you do not, it could be the difference between making the playoffs or missing out on hockey’s second season.
With the way the Rangers are playing right now, it is possible that come April, they could be hitting the golf course a little too early for their liking.