The Rangers’ Biggest Obstacles

Following the success of last season the New York Rangers will likely be looking to match or surpass their appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals and the measure of a successful season could be determined as “Cup or bust.” Recently moving into second place in the Metropolitan Division despite missing their unequivocal best player in Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers are most definitely a cup contender and here are a list of the five weaknesses or potential obstacles that the team must overcome if they want to match last year’s results.

New York Rangers left wing Tanner Glass (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)
(Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)

Physical Play or Lack Thereof

No one will mistake the Rangers for a team that wins with physicality, they beat teams with speed and goaltending. However in the playoffs and down the stretch of the postseason race it will be very important to have at least a solid physical presence. Players like Chris Kreider, Kevin Klein and even the undersized Mats Zuccarello are willing to get scrappy in the corners and each have dropped the gloves this year but the major player that is supposed to set the tone is Tanner Glass and all things considered he has dropped the ball. In some of this years more physical games, including all four Islanders games he has not only not fought but not had much presence at all in the game. Combine that with a -15 rating and Glass needs to demonstrate his value in a greater fashion or a less tough lineup with Fast, Miller and Stempniak will make more sense and others will have to combine to be the enforcer.



Let me start by saying this clearly: Cam Talbot has served admirably in the wake of Lundqvist’s first major injury. However, the Rangers have lived and died by King Henrik for the past decade so when he is not in net it is noticeable and noteworthy. From the small sample size this season and the slightly larger sample size from his career, Talbot is a starter quality goaltender and probably could be a night in and night out starter for several teams in the NHL right now. It seems the worst case scenario for Lundqvist’s injury is being out the rest of the regular season. If that is the case as of now it seems that Talbot will be able to lead the Rangers to the dance and the hope is that then the King can step in and do what he did last year and lead the blueshirts to the finals or further.

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)
 (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)

Playing 60 Minutes

Throughout this season, and early last season, the Rangers have consistently played up and down to various competition. The spark that propelled last years playoff run was learning to bring their “A” game each and every night and playing a full 60 minutes. Games like the high-scoring 6-5 win over the Islanders earlier this week are a perfect example of that type of play but the overtime win against the struggling Stars last week are the type of efforts that will not cut it as the spring and high stakes games approach.

Xs and Os: Faceoffs and Clearing the Zone

The two major strategic shortcomings for this team are in the faceoff circle and the defensive zone. The Rangers are the second worst in the league in faceoff percentage with Dominic Moore being the only center winning more than half of his draws. Brassard sits at 49% while Stepan and Hayes sit at an unacceptable 42% and 36% respectively. Hayes has limited center experience before this year so that makes more sense than Stepan. Nonetheless a solution must be found whether it be internal with a guy like Miller taking Hayes position or externally, Antoine Vermette anybody?

Clearing the zone is one of those aspects of the game that often goes unnoticed but is immensely important. Though there are not many statistics to back it up, anyone who has watched this team play has seen numerous failed clearing attempts lead to goals against. This is a problem that can be fixed with additional identification and focus on the problem. When the Rangers play a 7-game series it will be important to not make mistakes that help already skilled teams put pucks in the net.

4 thoughts on “The Rangers’ Biggest Obstacles”

  1. I don’t know if I agreed with a bunch of Jason’s assessments to begin with, but to me that’s less important than the recognition that there’s no way the team will be able to do anything about it – either the asking price for a player who COULD help is too high or there’s no room under the salary cap (THE time bomb now and for the next several years because Sather’s faults – many – start with his inability to handle the cap). I am NOT a proponent of giving up the future to fill a relatively minor hole – that’s because it rarely works.
    The Rangers will NEVER be the kind of physical team Jason yearns for – they don’t need to be, which is good, because the reality is they don’t have the capability. Glass is obviously a disappointment, but he was never going to get the minutes where being physical actually does set the tone.

    On that basis, NYR went further last year than anybody expected, in part because they stepped up their game overall but very much because they matched up well with their opponents, especially the fundamental weaknesses of their opponents – realistically, they were better than the Flyers, Pittsburgh had all kinds of holes as a team and so did Montreal. When they got to LA, they were overmatched, especially at center. And they STILL are weak at center in the sense that neither Brassard or Step are speedy and Brassard especially isn’t nearly physical enough…Hayes has been a wonderful surprise, but he’s playing out of position. I much prefer a solution with someone who will fit well into AV’s system – someone like Vermette that will allow Hayes to move to the wing and that strengthens the power/speed on the outside, which is a MAJOR area of improvement compared to last year; this also allows moving JT down to 4th line.

    I think this is MUCH better team this year, in spite of McD/Girardi not playing at the level expected and (until recently) very little coming out of either Zuc or Hags. Where they have improved overall is that they continue to feature their speed PLUS they are more physical, especially the forwards coming back so that they’re less prone to long stretches where they are stuck in the defensive zone – that’s where they wind-up getting hurt on faceoffs. The solution is to stay aggressive on their forechecking, etc – when they are able to do that, they are as good as any team in hockey. There is ONE team in the East – the Isles — where the Rangers don’t match-up well (might also say Lightning, but both teams are very different today than earlier in the season). Isles are big, fast and extremely aggressive, especially on offense – you beat the Isles by tieing them up in the neutral zone and forcing them to play defense – and the Isles are not nearly as good at that point.

  2. The Rangers need a bruising defenseman. Replace Hunwick or Moore with McIilrath.
    Glass is a bust and Fast isn’t ready for prime time. Get rid of them and trade for a physical forward.

  3. Locust you must be new to the NHL the Rangers are in 2 nd place and have great chance to win the Eastern Conference. Just like every other team in the league they have a couple of holes. They could sure need a 3 rd line center who can win face-offs and some depth on the blueline.

  4. who is jason bisnoff and what makes him an expert on the rangers? while some of his points are valid he misses the mark for the reasons the team is having difficulties. i watch every game and the biggest problem they have is consistency. it can’t be blamed on youth because they have a good mix of veterans. therein, i believe, lies the problem. the biggest problem this year has been st louis. he’s loved and respected by the fans and teammates but his play thus far has been mediocre at best. mcdonagh and gerardi have had a poor year so far. staal should have been traded but instead was given a big contract. the last time he used his body to separate an opponent from the puck was before the eye injury and the concussions. now it’s stick check or get beat. boyle has been a huge bust. the guy is just a shadow now. klein has been their only steady defenseman all year. finally, if it wasn’t for nash they wouldn’t be in a playoff position. i’m a big fan but objectively speaking if they don’t pick up their game soon they’ll be going home sooner than later.

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