So the Rangers have started the 2013-14 hockey season 1-3-0. Big deal. This is the fifth time since 2005-06, that they have started out that way each time making the playoffs. One time they even made it to the Conference Finals (2011-12). This is the first season with former Cancuks head coach Alain Vigneault behind the Rangers bench. Is it the first time he has stumbled out of the gate? Nope. In fact in his entire 12-year NHL coaching career he has started 1-3-0 (or worse) five times. Three of those times in Vancouver, they made the playoffs and even had a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
By the Numbers
Stating the obvious, the Rangers are struggling. How bad is it? The Rangers are currently 28th in the league in goals scored (6), 30th in the league goals allowed (20), 26th in the league in shots per game (26.5) and 28th in the league in shots allowed per game (36.2). That isn’t a good start. Losing their last two games by a combined score of 15-2 certainly doesn’t help those numbers at all.
With one of the worst road schedules to open a season, the Rangers are heading back east but still have stops in St. Louis, Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Detroit before making it home for the first time this season. California was not kind to them (with the exception of their win against the Los Angeles Kings) and they are hoping the rest of the trip the home teams will be more courteous.
Brad Richards has three goals so far which helps, but he is going to be looked at to do more now that Rick Nash will be sidelined for a week or two. Derek Stepan has three helpers but hasn’t found the back of the net yet. Marc Staal, Derek Dorsett, and Ryan McDonagh have the other goals so far for the Rangers.
No team in any sport is immune to injuries. It is all in how a team responds to them that makes the difference. The Rangers have not responded well after losing Rick Nash Tuesday night in San Jose. Nash is expected to miss a week or two after being struck in the head with an elbow from Brad Stuart of the Sharks. The Rangers dropped the first Nash-less game 6-0 in Anaheim. As is the case with anything in hockey, the Rangers need to create more chances by putting bodies in front of the net and fire more shots on goal.
So far in the early going the goaltending appears to be an issue. Henrik Lundqvist is one of the elite goaltenders in the league, but is struggling to prove that. His goals against average (4.31), sits two points higher than his career average (2.27). Backup goalie Martin Biron, who will get his first start of the season against the Blues Saturday night, has seen some time on the ice but hasn’t fared any better. Biron has allowed 5 goals in 21 shots so far.
The Rangers aren’t as bad as their last two games. This team is way too talented to be down for long. As history has shown poor play in October doesn’t necessarily translate into a lost season.
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John Is a contributor with The Hockey Writers covering the Buffalo Sabres. He is also a Senior Writer and Editor at MetsMerizedOnline.