The New York Rangers started off slow last season, struggling to find consistency at the beginning of the season. This year is an all too familiar story. The Rangers were blown out by the New York Islanders 6-3 on Tuesday night, extending the team’s losing streak to three games.
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist allowed six goals for the second straight game, and as a team, the Rangers have allowed 17 goals during the skid.
The entire game was filled with mistakes by the defensemen, leaving Lundqvist vulnerable to easy scoring opportunities for the Islanders. Michael Kostka made bad passes in front of his own net, which led to the Islanders’ second and third goals. To cap off the humiliating performance, Kevin Klein deflected a puck past Lundqvist in the third period.
All night long, the Rangers’ blue-liners were slow and out of position. Every defensemen on the team was guilty of playing poorly on Tuesday, including captain Ryan McDonagh.
McDonagh was named the team’s 27th captain in team history prior to the regular season after the trading of Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay during last year’s trade deadline. Through two home games, McDonagh is still looking for his first victory on home ice while donning the ‘C.’
The former University of Wisconsin star halted any momentum the Rangers had in the first period after Rick Nash opened up the game’s scoring. McDonagh committed an obvious interference penalty at 9:43 of the first period. The Islanders tied the game on the ensuing power-play and the Rangers’ blue-line mistakes started to snowball.
The amount of mistakes by the Rangers’ defensemen were alarming it itself, but reliable players like McDonagh and Marc Staal were uncharacteristically struggling against a young team with speed. Dan Girardi didn’t block nearly the amount of shots he usually does and the team overall didn’t disrupt shooting lanes.
The Rangers’ defensemen had more giveaways (5) than the entire Islanders team (4) did during the game.
For someone with the track record of Lundqvist, panicking only four games into a season would be foolish. The Swedish net minder had a similar slow start to last season, starting out 1-3 with a 6.00 GAA in his first four appearances. He was able to shape into form and led the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup finals since 1994, ultimately losing to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.
The Rangers have a very winnable game on Thursday night against the winless Carolina Hurricanes, but they’ll have to avoid a defensive meltdown to give themselves a chance. McDonagh told reporters after the game, “As a group here, we’ve got to stick together and figure this out.”
With a bunch of games against last year’s playoff teams on the horizon, the Blueshirts have to improve if they don’t want to be buried in the Metropolitan Division standings.