Having suffered three in a row brutal losses, the New York Rangers took the ice Tuesday night to hopefully defeat the Buffalo Sabres. With the Rangers and Sabres struggling thus far, this was a crucial game for both teams to get their hopes and playoff chances back up. For the Blueshirts, the previously nail-biting games which ended in losses must be left in the past. Tonight, the Rangers looked to end their winless drought. In fact, a big key to capitalize on these winnable games has to do with discipline and chemistry. In such an important game, did the Rangers manage to play as a team, or did they revert back to their independent ways?
Unfortunately for the Rangers, the answer to this question is a negative one. This loss against the Sabres expands their losing streak to 4 in a row. Overall, it is very frustrating to see the Rangers get off to such an awful start to the season. While many predicted the Rangers would hit the ground running with their offensive firepower, it was in fact the exact opposite. In this game, as I mentioned before, penalties killed the Rangers. Out of the four penalties they took, the Sabres cashed in on two of them. As a result, this drained the Rangers of their energy to even attempt to mount a comeback. This 3-2 loss now makes the Rangers record 1-4-1 and puts the team at the rear end of the standings. As far as where the Rangers are going wrong, it’s a very complex problem to address.
On paper, the Rangers have one of the most offensive-oriented teams. At the same time, they also are the youngest team in the National Hockey League. In this game especially, the lack of leadership from the older guys on the team had an effect on the Ranger’s loss.
To start the first period, the Rangers looked very solid in both their own end and on offense. Despite the loss of Filip Chytil in the previous game who will be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks, the Rangers initially played united without him. As a result of this hot start, the Rangers headed into the second period up 2-1. For the Sabres, their lone goal was scored by their 7th overall pick in 2019, Dylan Cozens. For the Rangers, their first goal was scored by Chris Kreider and their second goal was scored by K’Andre Miller. This goal was Miller’s first career goal which was scored with a little over five seconds left in the period thanks to his powerful slapshot.
Not only was this a big morale boost for Miller, theoretically, this should have also given the Ranger the edge as they headed into the second period. However, this was certainly not the case. Throughout the second period, the Rangers were weak in all aspects of the game. Because of this, the Sabres capitalized by scoring two goals in this period. A communication error between the Rangers defense and offense allowed for Tobias Rieder to score on a breakaway. To add to the Rangers troubles, K’Andre Miller took a debatable cross-checking penalty which ultimately lead to Jack Eichel finding the back of the net. From there, the Rangers constant penalties made it difficult for them to fully get themselves back into the game.
Despite some good chances towards the end of the third, it was too little too late for the already wounded Rangers team. Unfortunately, the Blueshirts walked away with their tail between their legs yet again, as they fell short by a score of 3-2.
Takeaways For The Rangers
If by chance, any of the Rangers players do wind up reading this article, they will find that one of the things they struggled with tonight is in this heading: Takeaways! it seemed that all night the Rangers were desperately struggling with entering the neutral zone and holding onto the puck. These turnovers and takeaways by the Sabres allowed for them to barrel their way into the Rangers zone and create scoring chances. Secondly, and perhaps the biggest contributor to tonight’s loss was the lack of leadership. I’ve been saying this since game one and it still applies now; the Rangers are the youngest team in hockey and lack veterans. So guys like Panarin, Zibanejad, Kreider, and Trouba should take it upon themselves to help some of the youngsters.
A struggling Alexis Lafreniere will not develop if the guys he is looking up to don’t step up. Somebody on this team must take charge and establish dominance. Not only does this apply on the ice but in the locker room too. The Ranger’s top-six forward must take some responsibility and make it happen. Until the Ranger’s top players can get to that level and elevate the play of the rookies, more outcomes like this might be awaiting in the future.