Rangers Vs. Coyotes: Rangers Drop Season Opener, Don't Panic
Notes from the Rangers loss to the Coyotes.
- I talked about the New York Rangers potentially getting off to a slow start during this nine-game road opening stretch. Thursday was a good example of why. There were some growing pains (which should be expected), it's tough to spend so much time away from New York to open the season and the systemic changes are still starting to set in.
- The good news? Most of the problems from Thursday are fixable. Derek Stepan will be better than he was (his turnover lead to the first Coyotes goal), although I thought he looked OK for the most part. The defense will get used to their assignments (they looked lost at times, but some of that came from the madness created from a Phoenix power play) and some of the silly mistakes can be attributed to opening night jitters. Things will settle down.
- The power play looks miles better than it did last year. Yes, they only went 1-for-4 with the man advantage, but the puck movement was so much better. They actually look dangerous on the power play now. Players don't just dump and chase, they lug the puck into the zone and actually set things up. The power play will get better, too. But it looked good on Thursday.
- Marc Staal. Really nice first game back. It's been mentioned before, but why can't Staal play on the power play? He looked great there during the preseason, and he obviously scored the goal last night (off a pretty feed from Rick Nash, may I add). He was Mr. Everything for the Rangers, and showed no ill effects from his eye injury suffered late last year. That's good. The Rangers need him to be that guy this year.
- John Moore was good and bad. He was somewhat to blame for the first two Coyotes goals, but there were other times when he was that speeding defenseman who was joining the rush and then jumping back and playing solid defense. He was a little shaky. Opening night jitters it is because he didn't look like that in the preseason.
- Michael Del Zotto was really good last night. I think he was good enough that most of you would even agree (which means he must have been good).
- I love the defenseman joining the rush. I really do. The Rangers attached with purpose on Thursday, and while it allowed Phoenix some chances on the other end, when you have a goalie of Henrik Lundqvist's caliber it's not as big of a deal. It didn't come back to bite the Rangers on Thursday, but they still lost the game, so.
- Brad Richards was pretty good. Much better than last year.
- One of my favorite parts of Alain Vigneault? Jesper Fast played the least of any New York Ranger. He played over 10 minutes. Marc Staal played for over 25 minutes, but that might have been because John Moore looked a little lost at times and Ryan McDonagh missed some shifts in the first period. My point is I love the scatter of ice time, it doesn't run your top players into the ground. Look at Vancouver's box score from their loss to the San Jose Sharks last night. Three players played less than five minutes. He ran his defenseman hard. It's not a great long-term strategy.
- Derick Brassard looked really good at times, and other times he got bottled up well by the Coyotes. His tic-tac-toe passing play with Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello in the first period was amazing. And his vision helped spring a couple of chances.
- Some bad luck last night, too. Lundqvist was basically interfered with in the crease on the second goal (not that he would have had a good shot at making the save anyway, but it still should have been a penalty) after Brian Boyle had broken his stick. Then Zuccarello hit the post on a pretty shot from the outer slot. Little things that can sway a game didn't go the Rangers way. It is what it is.
- The biggest point? It's just one game. That's all. Obviously you'd rather the Rangers win the game, but you had to expect some games like this to happen. Let it settle down a little, it will be OK.