NEW YORK, NY – The Rangers are clinging to their playoff chances going into the last week of this shortened season.With last night’s capitulation to the Islanders, however, their slim NHL playoff hopes got a little slimmer. The Blueshirts are now six points back of the Bruins with five games left. The two teams go head-to-head for the Rangers’ last two games of the season. The Bruins have two games in hand so the Rangers will need a lot of help to squeak into the postseason. While they’re not mathematically eliminated, the playoffs look a bridge too far for the Broadway Blues.
The Rangers had been playing some decent hockey, helped by an 8-point week against the New Jersey Devils. But they haven’t been able to keep things together for long enough to make a serious playoff push this season. They would look like they were turning a corner but never quite make it. Slow starts from their stars like Mika Zibanejad, shaky goaltending by both Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, injuries to half the lineup, and international incidents with Artemi Panarin, all piled up leading to inconsistent play.
The team direction was also a bit confusing. This season should have been used to develop the young talent. Yet, the coaches leaned on the veterans trying to keep the team in the playoff hunt. I think it set the development of players like Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapp Kakko back. The Rangers were never going to make a deep push this season. The kids should have played a lot more. And that is on head coach David Quinn.
It’s telling that the Rangers played some of their best hockey when Quinn was out due to COVID Protocol. Hartford Wolfpack head coach Kris Knoblauch and former Ranger Chris Drury got the best out of the Rangers during their stint behind the bench on Broadway. It could be a sign of what’s to come once the team is ready to contend.
The future is bright for the Rangers. The defensive core is solid with Norris Trophy candidate Adam Fox, K’Andre Miller, Jacob Trouba, and Ryan Lindgren… The forwards are coming together with veteran leadership from Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad… Artemi Panarin is a once-in-a-generation talent. He’s definitely the best Ranger since Jaromir Jagr. He might be the best talent on the team since Messier.
The kids look good and should help give the Rangers a jolt next season. Vitali Kravtsov’s time in the KHL has done him well and he’s been sharp in his time with the Rangers this season… Lafrenière started his NHL career slowly but has picked things up of late… Pavel Buchnevich elevated his game with 44 points and a +12 rating in 49 games this season. The future is bright indeed. Wait till next year!
Speaking of young talent, come back tomorrow for Short Matt, who squandered so much promise. But first, leave your comments below. We’re here to talk all sports, so it doesn’t have to be just hockey.