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Rangers Vs. Islanders: Fixable Problems

Notes from the Rangers loss to the Islanders last night.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

- I'm always yelled at for being the eternal optimist. When things seem as dark as they can be I'm the one who tries to shine a few rays of hope on the situation. Today will be no different. A lot of what has plagued the Rangers the past two games have been fixable problems. That's good and bad, of course, but it's mainly positive since these problems can be fixed.

- I'm maintaining that last year was worse than this year has been. Yeah, 1-3 with back-to-back 6-3 blowouts isn't exactly good; but it was worse last year. Alain Vigneault's calm demeanor helped the Rangers through a few rough patches last year and this year won't be any different. They'll figure it out eventually -- even if they need to wait until some of their bigger names get healthy.

- And to be fair, the Rangers dominated the second period and walked out tied 2-2. The Islanders dominated the third and scored four goals. Some of that is puck luck.

- I do not disagree the Rangers should have kept Anton Stralman. I do disagree that Stralman would make a difference right now. You can replace Dan Boyle with Stralman all you want, but if Stralman got injured instead of Boyle the Rangers would be in the same mess. Making any argument about Stralman not getting injured (especially on a blocked shot injury) is a waste of everyone's time. Haven't seen this here but feel like it should be mentioned.

- Sticking with the positives: Kevin Hayes looked so good last night. A mile and a half better than his best preseason game. He created chances, was tough on the puck and nearly scored twice. He does need to be a little unselfish and just let the puck rip now and then, but a great showing from him.

- Same for Anthony Duclair. Another assist (three points in four games so far) and a lightning-quick shot to match his lightning-quick skating. If anyone thought he was going to look out of place with the big boys they were wrong. The pass he made for Rick Nash's second goal was perfectly placed. He's going to be special. I keep saying it, but I mean it.

- Since we're on the topic of Nash: sets a team record with goals in each of his first four games, scored two goals last night and now has six on the year in three and a half games. He's been fantastic for the Rangers so far. I'd say he's been wasted in this mess, but he did lead the Rangers to their only win of the year, so ...

- Lee Stempniak sure is a hell of a player. He's also making just $900K a year ...

- Enough positives, let's get to the down and dirty. Michael Kostka? Worst game possible for him. Vigneault said he was giving "some players" the benefit of the doubt by removing Matt Hunwick and inserting Kostka. The warning was for John Moore -- who has looked awful -- but Vigneault has no real options here. Kostka had the turnover that led to the tying goal in the second, and then less than a minute in he had the turnover that gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead. If he plays again this year it would be a minor miracle for him.

- While Kostka was the main problem, the entire defense looks bad. Ryan McDonagh has looked bad the past two games. Dan Girardi has been shaky. Marc Staal -- who I'm giving a minor pass because of his linemates -- hasn't been solid. Kevin Klein has imploded on the second pairing. A lot of this can be fixed with McDonagh and Girardi finding their game -- and Boyle will really help steady the top four and push Klein back to the third pairing where he belongs -- but right now it's bad.

- Henrik Lundqvist was great the first 40 minutes, and the defense did implode in front of him, but you'd love to see him make a few of those tougher saves to keep the Rangers in it. He didn't. =

- Why Jesper Fast -- who has defensive abilities up the wazoo -- was removed boggles my mind. For a team who has defensive issues wouldn't you want all available players with defensive fortitude? Maybe make sure Fast is out with Kosta or Klein to help mitigate some of those defensive issues? Just a thought. Not sure what Tanner Glass is bringing to the table right now, since his very little penalty killing ability isn't helping.

-I don't know if he's still hurting (my bet is he is) but Mats Zuccarello was invisible last night. That's something of a problem, too, since offense isn't exactly spilling out of the Rangers right now (two garbage goals the past two games have made things seem a little rosier).

- Ryan Malone made a good case to stay in the lineup ... for Glass. Not sure where J.T. Miller fits if Hayes keeps playing like he does, either.

- I'm maintaining the Rangers need 10 points their first 10 games. They're 1-3 right now, which means they would need to go 4-2 to get there. Not insurmountable at all, but with the way the Rangers are playing right now it seems like a tall task.