The Rangers hope to learn from the mixed results of the road trip
The four-game road trip out west may not have ended the way Rangers had hoped, but the club picked up five points from a possible eight and should return home in a position to build on their recent run of form.
2-1-1 indicates that it was certainly not perfect. Rangers are still enduring the occasional awful spell that prevents the team from being satisfied with their 60 minutes. Sometimes, usually with the help of goaltender Igor Shesterkin, the Rangers can come out unscathed, as they did in the second period against the Kraken on Thursday. Other times, they have to work much harder to make up for it, such as the two-goal hole they had to climb out of after a flat opening frame Tuesday against the Kings.
The Blueshirts must eradicate, or at least limit, these uneven periods from their repertoire. It will count them too many plays or cause the team to fall apart as they try to compensate.
Their problems to finish followed them from city to city. So many posts have been hit. Many shots missed. So many bounces just didn’t go in their favor. Masking his frustrations with his puck luck was better some nights than others, but when his irritation passed, it only made the black rubber puck stingier.
Losing to the Ducks, who are in the basement of the entire NHL, cast a bit of a shadow over the positives the Rangers should take from the trip. Anaheim hadn’t won a single game in regulation until the Rangers came to town.
“We had four or five empty nets [Ducks goalie John Gibson] made some kind of stop,” said Mika Zibanejad, who had one goal and three assists in the four games. “[Forty-three] shots. I don’t know, it’s frustrating. Yes, we don’t play our best game, but we create enough chances, we do enough, but the puck doesn’t want to go in. At least [Wednesday night]. Gibson offers them some very significant savings. It’s frustrating.”
The Rangers went five-for-five in their first six starts, especially in a 5-3 win at Los Angeles on Tuesday. Barclay Goodrow, Vincent Trocheck, Kaapo Kakko and Chris Kreider passed. It may not be enough, but it’s a place to start.
There have been so many instances of their star players coming within inches of a goal that, with some mental perseverance, Rangers’ front two lines should have a boost in any game now.
It was also encouraging to see some fight in the Rangers. In two of the four games, they came from behind to win or force overtime. The second period of the game against the Kings, when the Rangers scored three straight to erase a two-goal deficit, is probably a contender for one of his best 20 minutes of the season.
What was even more impressive was the way they stayed calm after LA tied it again just over six minutes into the third, which Kreider answered with two goals to secure the victory.
“That’s how you build things,” captain Jacob Trouba said after the come-from-behind win over the Kings. “Fighting through adversity, fighting to be down two, holding on to a one-goal lead going into the third on the road in a pretty good building. Those are the kinds of things that make a team. I think, I don’t want to say we stumbled a little bit earlier, but we had some tough breaks. We had some games where we didn’t get the result we wanted. I think it really goes to your head, but you have to build throughout the season.
“You build your game, you build confidence in the group and in the dressing room. You feel that good feeling and the fun. I think hopefully we’ll get into it because I think the guys have been frustrated at times with how we’ve played. I don’t think it’s a secret.
“The team has been frustrated at times as a group, and we keep fighting and playing. It was good to come down early and come back and win a game and feel good and know we have it in this room.”
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