Gérard Gallant already against the clock to find the identity of the Rangers

The day it arrived an hour early for New Yorkers, it started to get a bit late for Rangers.

Yes I know. The season has 13 games. But I’m not sure if the modifier should be “only” 13 games or “already” 13 games.

Because roughly a third of the 2022-23 season, the Blueshirts have won less than half their games, the record falling to 6-4-3 after Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss at the Garden to the Red Wings after going 2-0 begins the second period.

I’ll tell you what, it surely wasn’t too early for head coach Gerard Gallant to drop a quiet fourth-line Chris Kreider with Ryan Carpenter and Julien Gauthier in a series of line changes in the third period. Kreider’s feet just don’t move. It was a decision as dramatic as the one Gallant made during his 95-game regular-season tenure behind the New York bench. It probably took a long time to come.

“He deserved to be where he was,” said the coach. “He was not alone.”

Rangers are in the middle of the pack for those clubs currently outside the playoff line, and more – or less – is that this team has yet to establish an identity. Mika Zibanejad and Jacob Trouba – two of the four players who have deigned to be available to the media – explained how the team know what their game is and need to come back to it, but that seems like a leap of faith at the moment.

Gerard Gallant reacts from the bench in the Rangers' loss to the Red Wings.
Gerard Gallant (r.) reacts from the bench during the Rangers loss to the Red Wings.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

It’s not last year’s team. Jaro Halak may have had the team’s best goalkeeper performance of the year in the 33-save effort that at least saved a point, but the Blueshirts were unable to back up. on their goalie as they did in Igor Shesterkin’s victory at Vézina in 2021-22. country. Indeed, the team ranks 25th in five-on-five save percentage at .906. It was kind of Arizona territory last season.

Thirteen games and it’s quite a challenge to be able to identify what this group is doing particularly well. To suggest that Rangers aren’t a particularly physical group would be up for the understatement of the season. They check forward in spurts. There’s too much risk in their puck-handling game. They don’t defend the crease particularly well.

And for a club with so many skilled marquee players, Rangers are helpless at five against five. They came off the ice Sunday 25th in the NHL with 2.1 goals per 60:00 and also rank 25th in five-on-five goal differential percentage at 44.90, having scored 22 and allowed 27. Their allegedly vaunted power play sits 15th after Sunday’s 1-for-2.

These are not numbers worthy of a Stanley Cup contender. These are numbers that might not be suitable for a playoff team.

The first period represented one of the best of the season for the club, with the Blueshirts leading by two goals after 20 minutes for the first time since the second game of the year in Dallas. But their energy quickly dissipated. Their offense became kerflooey. The Red Wings, 7-3-2 and a legitimate threat to end their six-year playoff drought, took control.

Perhaps it’s more accurate to suggest that the Rangers handed it over, as they so often have with the puck. There was also a glaring line change from the Zibanejad-Kreider-Kaapo Kakko unit that led directly to the Wings 2-2 tying goal on a second rebound at 8:37 of the second period which was marked with no Blueshirt striker pictured. . There seemed to be some ignorance in the coverage of Detroit’s first goal which was scored on a deflected forward.

Chris Kreider fights for the puck in the first period.
Chris Kreider fights for the puck in the first period.

Get it: the Rangers haven’t held a third-period lead since Game 4 of the season, Oct. 17 against Anaheim.

The pace at times, or at least when Rangers tried to sneak into the neutral zone, resembled September. Kreider, who went a game-high 15:03 on ice but got the first quarter of overtime, was hit more than any other forward by Gallant, who shuffled all of his lines. Assistant coach Gord Murphy, who leads the defense, apparently pointed the finger at No. 6 Zac Jones only getting one third-period shift, this one in the second minute.

Row combinations that were essentially static do not produce. Gallant moved Alexis Lafrenière to Filip Chytil’s wing in third while moving Sammy Blais to Vincent Trocheck’s flank. Artemi Panarin, who can’t pass his passes, skated to the left of Zibanejad. The third period was better than the second but it wasn’t enough.

Neither Zibanejad nor Trouba took this one lightly, with the captain acknowledging playing 60 minutes has been a season-long challenge for this group. The Rangers cannot be happy with their condition. They’re in for a long fight if things don’t turn out fast enough.

Thirteen games into the season, it’s getting late soon enough.

New York Post

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