You knew they weren’t going to remain as hot as they were, but now the Rangers are 0-2 coming out of the break with the puck moving the other way. Those fortunate bounces are now becoming less opportune and the goals aren’t coming in droves.
“An inch here and an inch there and we may have been able to beat their goaltender,” said coach Alain Vigneault after tonight’s 1-0 loss to the Canadiens.
For the record, the Rangers have scored just one goal over the last 120 minutes and the Jesper Fast tally was a garbage time light of the lamp.
Remember, with the way the Eastern Conference is going, it’s going to be very hard to make up ground.
So now is the time for Glen Sather to start looking at his roster to see if he can make a move or two.
With 46 games under their belt, we are reaching the point where a rookie like Kevin Hayes is at no-man’s land when it comes to games played in a season. With No. 13 centering the third line, it’s going to become more and more difficult for Vigneault to roll the four lines out, night in and night out.
Hayes is an important part of this team. He has improved since the beginning of the season and has made the third line credible. However, he still is a rookie, who was playing at Boston College this time last year, so you may be his play become more and more erratic, especially as he gets more and more tired.
For now, it may make sense to sit Hayes for a few games, especially when it comes to back to backs and even take a few practices off. If you are going to do that, though, the Rangers will need a replacement for No. 13, so it may be time to see what Oscar Lindberg can do in The Show.
The 23 year-old Swede had 13 goals and 15 assists for the Wolf Pack. Unlike Hayes, he’s considered a true center, who won’t have to learn the position. Plus since he’s a rookie, he won’t take up too much of the salary cap, either.
Of course, this team is built to win now and the expectation is that the Rangers will be playing deep into May or even June. For that to happen, they can’t mess around with untested rookies and Sather is always interested in buying on Deadline Day.
Unfortunately, this year the Rangers are crunched with the cap. According to Spotrac, they only have about $990,000 in cap space left, so Sather needs to get creative and dump a few salaries before he can make a trade for Antoine Vermette, who would be perfect for this team. And remember Vermette would be a rental, so does Sather want to give up J.T. Miller for a short term buy.
These are the decisions old Slats will have to make over the next month. Yet, he has to start now because as easily as the team won in December and January, they can lose this month.
The Rangers are a good team right now, but it’s becoming clearer that they will need a piece or two at the deadline. It’s time to start taking the steps to fill a few holes.