Better luck next year: The New York Rangers made some mistakes and have some concerns
They can not squander another elite goalie.
Welcome to Better Luck Next Season. As each NHL team gets eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention, and then the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we will take a look at what went wrong, what went right, and what sits ahead for them. Today we look at the New York Rangers and their First Round elimination. Mistakes were made, and concerns have developed.
Expectations were sky high for the New York Rangers this season.
After reaching the Eastern Conference Final a year ago there was a belief that their championship window was just starting to open, especially given the talent at the top of the roster. Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox, and Igor Shesterkin have all been top-tier players at their positions, while they still had the potential of a young core of recent top draft picks that were (hopefully) on the verge of breaking out and becoming stars.
When they acquired Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane at the trade deadline, those championship expectations rapidly increased.
They entered the playoffs as one of the top favorites in the Eastern Conference, but failed to win a single round and were ultimately knocked out in seven games by the New Jersey Devils, losing four of their final five games.
So what happened here?
In short: They Ranger’d things up in a way only the Rangers can.
They acquired big names they did not need or fit their style of play, they failed to develop the most important players in their rebuild, and they are still far too reliant on their latest franchise goaltender to bail them out and mask all of their flaws.
Even with all of their success the past two years there was still an extensive list of red flags with this team.
Their 5-on-5 play has never been particularly good.
Their top draft picks have only been “okay” instead of stars.
They do not have a ton of scoring depth.
Their head coach, the recently fired Gerard Gallant, seemed to only have one adjustment in his playbook: Play harder and hit some people.
None of it ever seemed like a winning formula, which is why I saw them as such a huge wild card all season with a massive gap between their possible outcomes.
If everything clicked with their young players and they made the right additions at the deadline, there was a definite path that could have propelled them on a Stanley Cup run.
But there was also a path that could see them flame out way earlier than expected.
That was the path they followed.
They already started to work on correcting one of those issues by parting ways with Gallant. But there are still some pretty big concerns starting to emerge with this team from a big picture standpoint. Both in terms of how their front office has built them, and whether or not their young players will ever be what they hoped.
Let’s dig into this all a little more.
Patrick Kane was never the right move
Kane is not the biggest reason the Rangers lost, but he also did nothing to get them closer to a championship.
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