The New York Rangers are 2-2-2 in their first six games this season, and fresh off a 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night, and we're back in panic mode again.
Ah, to be a Rangers fan.
Apparently it doesn't matter that the Rangers have taken six points in their first six games on a grueling road trip in which the team has already traveled over 16,000 miles and done it without their number one defenseman for all six games, and have been without their number three defenseman for four games.
It doesn't seem to matter that the Rangers are also playing without Wojtek Wolski, who would remove Erik Christensen from the lineup and add even more of a scoring touch to whatever line he ends up playing on.
Never mind the fact that the Rangers are .500 six games through the year. I don't want to hear the "we only won because of Henrik Lundqvist" debate either. He's the Rangers goaltender, that's his job. Don't apologize for his fantastic play.
Again, we're six games into the season, the panic and overreaction at this point in the season has to stop. With that being said, there are significant issues which need to be fixed moving forward, and they're after the jump.
The most obvious fix has to be the penalties. The Rangers have taken over 35 in their first six games this year, that's an average of seven penalties a game. That problem was highlighted by Mike Rupp's stupid offensive zone hooking call that allowed the Oilers to turn a manageable 1-0 lead into a much more comfortable 2-0 lead.
The Rangers offense is already having enough problems putting the puck into the back of the net, and the penalties are keeping the top players off the ice. The penalties are also cause John Tortorella to turn to guys like Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky when his team is a man down, and it simply adds to their fatigue.
Since we're talking about the offense, the power play needs to start converting. There was no sense of danger when the Rangers worked their five-on-three, and the unit only generated one real chance. Simply put, whatever the Rangers are doing in practice isn't working, the power play has a dismal 5% success rate on the year, something needs to be done to fix that.
Finally, the even strength offense. I've seen a lot of people calling out Dubinsky, and while he's not playing well, there's no reason to be calling for his head and not Callahan's. Dubinsky has three assists so far this year, Callahan has one bad-angle goal. Both players had scoring chances Saturday night, neither found a way to put the puck into the back of the net.
We can talk all we want about primary scoring, but Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards have done their jobs thus far this season. Gaborik has four goals in the six games, and Richards has five points. It's the secondary scoring that has been the major issue, and it's something that needs to be fixed soon.
Basically what I'm telling you is this: The Rangers have gotten off to probably the worst start imaginable with execution and injury issues, and the team has still taken six points in six games. When this team puts everything together, and they will, the Rangers will be an elite team in this league.
They have too much talent not to be.
Ryan McDonagh has stepped up in Marc Staal's absence, and has been a revelation. Tim Erixon has played well in his time with the big club, and Michael Del Zotto looks much improved. People are going to blast him all they can since the offense isn't there yet, but he's focusing on his defense game. He's still young, getting burned is going to happen, but I've been impressed with his start to the year so far.
There are positives, there are also negatives. Right now, this team is treading water while playing about as bad as possible. It could be worse. And when this team gets it together, they're going to be able to do special things.
Now it's just a matter of getting it done.