Last February, New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton revealed in a letter written to the team’s fans that the franchise would be going in a new direction.
While I am sure that a few fans were disappointed, there were plenty of fans like myself were happy to hear that this team was going to be rebuilding. It was clear that the team’s Cup window was closed and that it would take some time for the franchise to reopen it.
When the Blueshirts went on a 9-1-1 run a few months ago and were actually first in the Metropolitan Division, I for one was pretty confused. In fact, I am sure many other Blueshirt fans felt this way given what Gorton said in the letter that was sent nine months before that point.
Was this team actually rebuilding? Were they aiming for the Cup? What the heck were they doing?
Well, to start the new year, the team is showing its true colors. It took a few months, but it appears that the team we thought we would see has finally stepped onto the ice.
The team is winless in the new year and have looked absolutely awful in their three games in 2019. In fact, this team has been up and down for the last little while, but as of this writing at least, their ship is starting to sink.
One way the real team has shown up is with the play of their defense. In their three losses to start the new year, they have allowed 18 goals.
In these three games, the club’s defensive corps has been sloppy with the puck, looks lost on the ice, and is starting to look like they did back in mid-February when the team got rid of Ryan McDonagh. Yes, the team’s defense is young, but they need to play a lot better than they have been to restore some kind of respectability.
Secondly, future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist is starting to look his age again. The second half of last year was a brutal one for the 36-year-old masked man and right now, it is looking like it could be the same way again this year.
Last Wednesday night against in his team’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, he gave up seven goals. On Sunday night against the Arizona Coyotes, he allowed five goals on 27 shots.
That’s 12 goals allowed in his last two games. While the blame cannot solely be placed on his shoulders, there were a few goals that he would probably love to have back.
Lastly, the team’s offense is drying up. This is a rebuilding team in every phase of the game and offense is one of them.
In the club’s last three games, they have scored just three goals. As of this writing, the team is 27th in the league in goals scored with 109 tallies in 41 games, which means they are averaging just over two goals per game.
Folks, this is what was expected of this hockey team going into the season. This club was not expected to be all that competitive this season and instead, would be a team and franchise that would focus on building and coaching this team the right way so that the team’s future would be bright.
Well, at the beginning of the season, this team exceeded our wildest expectations. For the most part, they were in every game, they were playing well enough at each position to stay in the playoff conversation, and for the most part, they were a ton of fun to watch.
Clearly, this team has come back down to reality and that’s okay. There is nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to this team.
It’s now time to realize that this is who they are and who they are going to be for a bit.
Photo: New York Daily News