Through six games of the 2017-2018 regular season, the New York Rangers find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. With a record of 1-5, New York’s lack of speed has been noticeable. The NHL is now a league of speed and skill, unlike it was a few years ago when the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings were winning Stanley Cups. The Bruins and Kings each played a heavy physical style that led to their success.
Over the past three years, the skilled Chicago Blackhawks and speedy Pittsburgh Penguins have been champions. The torch was passed from physicality to speed, and the Rangers haven’t adapted. Playing in a division that features the defending champions and the Presidents Trophy winning Washington Capitals is a challenge in itself, but dealing with the speed and skill of those teams is a whole other challenge.
Through six games, the Rangers have only scored 13 goals, while allowing 21.
Looking at the lineup
The Rangers have a balanced approach when it comes to their forward lines, which has not been working thus far. The fastest forward is Michael Grabner, but he is playing on the fourth line which makes him a limited threat.
Putting Grabner in the top six could create more scoring chances for players like Mika Zibanejad and Rick Nash, who are skilled forwards. A line featuring Grabner on the left, Zibanejad in the middle, and Mats Zuccarello on the right could create immense speed.
J.T. Miller has shown glimpses of greatness through his young career, making him a prime candidate to reach the next level in his play this season.
On defense, the Rangers have experience but lack speed. Defenders Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, and Kevin Shattenkirk all have great ability, but they lack the quickness to break the puck out of their zone with ease. Against fast teams like the Penguins and the Capitals, those defensemen struggle in their own end.
Forward Jesper Fast is returning to the lineup in the near future, which should give a boost to the Rangers offense, which has been dormant.
One positive through six games for the Rangers has been their powerplay, which has been tallying at a rate of 21.7%. On the other hand, the Rangers penalty kill has been subpar, killing off only 75% of penalties.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has not been the main issue for the Rangers, as he has stopped .914% of his shots. Last season, Lundqvist finished with a save percentage of .910%, but the Rangers still captured 102 points in the regular season.
It is still early in the season for the Rangers, but a continued lack of scoring will most likely have them on the outside looking in.