The New York Rangers lost yesterday afternoon—defeated by the Edmonton Oilers by the score of 2-1. And they are now 1-4, having won only one game in OT against the San Jose Sharks. Although they are not at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, right now, the Rangers are much closer to a lottery team than they are to being a playoff contender.
But, they are also as a whole is so much of a better team than they were just a week ago. The defense and Henrik Lundqvist (who is playing lights out thus far this season) held Connor McDavid’s Oilers to only two goals. As Head Coach David Quinn has said before, he wants New York to be difficult to play against, and yesterday afternoon they were. The defense, particularly Marc Staal, Frederick Claesson, and Brady Skjei, were willing to take the body and keep the Oilers’ forwards along the boards. Many fewer shots came from forwards at the center of the ice. Quinn acknowledged that, the defense “played smarter and made better decisions in that regard,” but noted that, “in turn we lost a little bit of our aggressive puck pursuit in the offensive zone.”
As the Rangers blueline will be working to be more relentless, the Rangers offense will be working on scoring more goals. No one is expecting that the team replicate last Sunday’s losing five-goal barrage against Carolina (nor does anyone, least of all Quinn, hope to have another game like that this season), New York has to consistently be able to score three goals a game to have a winning record at the end of the season.
For the second game in a row, Filip Chytil played center on the fourth line. With not enough ice time and not the right role players beside him, Chytil was totally ineffective. Quinn admitted that this was a problem at the post-game press conference, stating flat out, “I’ve got to get him more ice time.” In addition, Quinn did not rule out moving him to the wing—a move that might make up for the fact that Chytil has played in all five games this season and never had a winning face off percentage. Chytil, who may be the most talented shotmaker on the team, looks like he is losing confidence. Either he needs more ice time among the top talent on the Rangers or he needs a quick send back to Hartford. Quinn appears to know this, so expect a change when New York hits the ice against Colorado on Tuesday night.
All this is good and well but, it is hard to win when the officiating seems to be tilted against you. Again, yesterday, for the third game in a row, calls were missed that resulted in quick goals against. I know that this is a very difficult game to officiate, and I know that, when the calls go the wrong way, a team just has to bear down and make sure that officiating mistakes are not converted into goals against, but when it happens over and over, someone has to mention that the on-ice calls have to be better. I am not claiming a bias against any one team but, is it just me or are things worse in this young season?