New York Rangers: It's not the coach
This off-season, Rangers' general manager John Tortorella relived John Tortorella of his duties and brought in Alain Vigneault to right the ship and change the way the Blueshirts played the game. It's been two months since the season began and it is clear that nothing has really changed for the Rangers.
For starters, this team is still struggling to put the puck in the net. As of this writing, the Rangers are 27th in the league in goals scored and are averaging about two goals per game.
While injuries to team captain Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash certainly did not help the team's offense, the rest of the club has yet to really step up. The leading goal scorer on this team, Brad Richards, has just nine goals and after Callahan (seven goals) and Nash (six goals), no one else is really stepping up in the goal-scoring department.
Not only is this a problem under the team's current head coach, but this was also an issue under Tortorella last season. With Tortorella behind the bench last season, the Rangers finished 15th in the league but it was not until after the trade deadline that the team's offense started to wake up.
Another problem that the Rangers are having this season is showing up for games. This was apparent against the Washington Capitals on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden when the team lost by a score of 4-1 and was also quite clear tonight in the team's 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.
In theory, these were two teams that the Rangers were supposed to beat, but instead, came up on the short end of the stick and dropped both games. With the team battling to stay in the top eight in the ever competitive Eastern Conference, these kinds of losses simply cannot happen.
This was the case under Tortorella last season. There were several games when the team did not show up to play or got off to a late start and as a result, it ended up costing the team valuable points in the standings.
The Rangers also seem to be relying on their defense and goaltenders to win hockey games this season. There is no doubt that the Blueshirts have been one of the better defensive teams in the league over the past couple of seasons and are not terrible this season (15th in the league) but when both the defense and star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist falter, the offense has not been there to bail the team out.
This was too often the case under Tortorella. More often than not, both the team's defense and Lundqvist would be almost perfect in games but once they got scored on, finding that tying goal or game winning goal often became a tough obstacle to overcome.
Folks, it is not the coach who is the problem when it comes to the New York Rangers. It is the players who cannot put the puck in the net, who are too inconsistent and who rely too much on the defensive side of the game to get two points on a nightly basis.
This is not how things work in the "new" NHL so the Blueshirts better figure out a way to start doing what they need to do on a consistent basis to win hockey games.