The New York Rangers played their third game in four nights tonight on the road in Raleigh, North Carolina, falling to the Hurricanes 8-5. The Blueshirts failed to pick up a point in the first week of the 2018 season and are currently sitting in last place in the Metropolitan Division at 0-3.
Certainly tough scheduling has played a role in the rugged start as the Rangers played back-to-back nights on the road this weekend after opening the season Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, but consistent goal scoring has been the biggest concern.
Despite potting five goals tonight in Carolina, the Rangers came into the contest with just three goals in their first two contests, all from different players. Generally not seen as a bad thing but a thing of depth, for New York this has been a concern for several years. Inconsistencies on a seasonal basis have hindered the city from making a deep playoff run since 2014, and the Rangers have been attempting to fix this problem for a while.
Rookie forward Brett Howden netted his first career goal Saturday night in Buffalo and could be a potential 30-goal scorer for New York in the future, but veterans such as Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes (proven 25-plus goal scorers) have yet to find their groove. It is still early, but if the Blueshirts are going to have any type of success this season it will have to come from these veteran leaders.
Chris Kreider, New York’s most valuable forward, netted his first two goals of the season tonight, but it wasn’t enough as the Rangers blew a 5-4 third period lead. Obviously playing 180 minutes in four nights caught up to the team and fatigue set in, opening the door for a Hurricanes comeback.
One positive for New York, however, has been their back-end. The Rangers have appeared to of tightened some things up defensively, but they still have a lot of work to do with such a young core. Brady Skjei has been The Rangers’ biggest asset on defense and has, for the most part, shut down the oppositions top lines. He has just one assist so far but is tied for first on the team with a plus-1 rating.
Henrik Lundqvist has been sound in between the pipes, allowing just four goals in his first two starts, and backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev didn’t have his best showing after he allowed seven goals on 39 shots.
It’s extremely difficult to judge a roster after just three games, and in four nights for that matter, but the Rangers need to find consistent offensive production moving forward if this rebuild is going to have any type of success.
New York is back at the Garden this week with two home games as they to get back into the win column for the first time under the David Quinn era.