Blueshirts Continue Search for Consistency

The Rangers are back at Madison Square Garden this evening to take on the Minnesota Wild in the second of two meetings on the year.

Ten days ago, at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul, the Wild handed the Rangers a 3-2 setback, jumping on the young Blueshirts blueline early, scoring three goals in the games’ opening six minutes.

The Rangers gamely fought back to make it a one-goal event, but could not find the game-tying goal and a spirited loss was booked. The Wild wrap up a three-game swing thru the Metropolitan area and have beaten the Islanders and Devils on their first two stops.

[Watch Rangers-Wild Tonight on MSG & MSG GO. Download for free.]

Speaking of spirited losses that scenario played out again last night, in Montreal, as the Canadiens prevailed by a 3-1 count. Alexandar Georgiev made his NHL debut in goal and did a good job keeping his team afloat despite falling behind 2-0 early in the second. Georgiev played with poise, moved quietly while getting to the proper position and was unafraid when it came to playing the puck outside his crease. While it is way too early to pass judgment on a career, it was an impressive start for the NHL’s first-ever Bulgarian born player.

For the Rangers, this continues to be a tough and awkward time for all involved, given how the trade deadline is playing out. Management has the responsibility of paying attention to the future of the franchise, while the coaches worries are centered game-to-game and the player’s main concern is life, shift-to-shift.

A lot of competing agendas that get magnified even more greatly when you have not been good enough to earn a playoff spot. Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather stated rather clearly on Feb. 8 the intention to dismantle and move to the future. That dismantling continued yesterday with the deal that sent Michael Grabner to the Devils. Alain Vigneault has stated equally as clearly that the coaches’ job is to prepare as best as possible for the next game regardless of the result of the last one and regardless of roster makeup.

While it is tough from a players’ perspective not to take a trade personally or ignore the white noise that engulfs deadline time, it is a player’s ultimate responsibility to continue to play hard and play honestly. While by and large, they have played hard and honestly since Feb. 8, this roster has not been good enough to win. This management-driven exercise is all an attempt to be good enough and deep enough to be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Being a contender is something they have proven not to be this season.

KEYS

1. Keep Playing
While there are a lot of reasons to be frustrated with recent results, the mandate and attitude have to be to keep it simple and keep playing. The work ethic is the one thing you can control. Keep playing.

2. First Pass
Last night in Montreal for the better part of the first period and a half, the Rangers were having trouble executing that all important first pass out of the defensive zone. Moving the puck efficiently in the D zone will create more chances up ice, something we saw last night in the third period against Montreal

3. Turnovers
The Wild are a savvy, veteran team. They jumped all over turnovers in the first six minutes of the game in St. Paul, scoring three times as a result and created a hole too deep to dig out of. If you have to get rid of it put it somewhere where it doesn’t end up in the back of your net.

[Watch Rangers-Wild Tonight on MSG & MSG GO. Download for free.]

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.