If the Rangers shut their eyes, faucet their heels collectively 3 times and say, “We are able to beat Boston,” effectively, there’s a likelihood that, sure certainly, the Blueshirts would possibly come out on prime of the mighty B’s, who prolonged their begin to 36-5-4 on Thursday with a 3-1 victory on the Backyard.
However wishing received’t make it so and neither will believing — even when the Rangers clung to the thought that, aside from for a couple of errors, they may have toppled the Bruins proper then and there.
However it’s a leap of religion to consider that this group, as presently constituted, may take the Bruins in a best-of-seven playoff sequence in April or Might. That, in any case is what they’re all right here for. It’s not solely to make the playoffs. That’s the minimal requirement this season.
The target is to win six extra playoff video games than they did final 12 months. It’s to win the Stanley Cup. Or, as Barclay Goodrow stated following the Rangers’ fourth regulation defeat within the final 20 video games (14-4-2): “We’ve seen what the most effective is. It’s as much as us to construct our recreation. It’s as much as us to stand up to their degree.
“We now have huge aspirations and massive objectives.”
To satisfy them, there’ll must be an enormous enchancment.
It’s changing into increasingly obscure how, in a recreation like this, Filip Chytil may get greater than 5 fewer minutes of ice time than Vincent Trocheck: 15:34 to twenty:54.
Barclay Goodrow is denied by Boston’s Jeremy Swayman on Thursday night time. The Publish’s Larry Brooks envisions a second line that features Artemi Panarin, Filip Chytil and Goodrow. Getty Photographs
It’s changing into increasingly obscure why head coach Gerard Gallant won’t transfer Chytil into that second-line spot with Artemi Panarin and a proper wing to be named later (cough, cough, Goodrow).
It’s changing into inconceivable to know why Gallant is sticking with the identical personnel on the primary power-play unit, which has scored one objective within the final eight video games. It’s changing into inconceivable to know why the primary power-play unit will get each begin, even when the Rangers have gone 1-for-19 over the past six video games after an 0-for-3 Thursday.
Gallant lambasted the second line with withering postgame feedback that targeted on defensive lapses. He wasn’t speaking about the fitting wing, both, on an evening when Vitali Kravtsov was changed by Jimmy Vesey halfway via the second interval.
“I’ve talked concerning the second line all 12 months lengthy, about enjoying higher, more durable defensively, not giving up odd-man rushes,” Gallant stated. “And it continues to occur.”
However it’s greater than that. Or, extra pointedly, much less. When requested if Panarin and Trocheck have developed appropriate chemistry, the coach responded: “They higher get higher.”
Trocheck is an efficient participant. However he and Panarin have demonstrated zero affinity for each other in 32 video games as linemates. But, with an apparent different in Chytil, Gallant continues to attempt pounding these sq. pegs right into a spherical gap.
That’s, because the coach identified, the second line. It’s meant to be a scoring line. Really, the Rangers have tried to assemble three scoring traces, which is a fundamental flaw of their building. They want a checking line. They want a matchup line. However that’s not how the group was constructed.
Ideally, you’d like Goodrow to anchor a matchup line. You’d construct round him. However that’s not an possibility until basic supervisor Chris Drury tears the group aside and does a large reconstruction main into the March 3 commerce deadline.
There are 201 forwards who’ve performed a minimum of 500 minutes at five-on-five this season. Trocheck ranks 194th in objectives per 60:00 at 0.28. Chytil has performed 451 minutes, however his 1.07 G/60 leads the Rangers.
Right here’s a bigger problem. If Trocheck is obstructing Chytil now, then what concerning the future? We now have touched on this earlier than, but when the 23-year-old Czech’s ceiling is the third line, then his long-term future will likely be elsewhere. Bear in mind, Trocheck has a full no-move clause via 2024-25. And Chytil is a pending restricted free agent whose cap hit is predicted to extend from $2.3 million to the $4 million neighborhood.
After nurturing Chytil for 5 years, dropping him, whether or not at this deadline or over the summer season, can be greater than a disgrace. It could be against the law.
The Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Kaapo Kakko unit appeared disjointed all through. The Trocheck line did create possibilities, in all probability a hat trick of Grade-A ones for Panarin, who appeared tentative and couldn’t end. Alexis Lafreniere, reunited with Chytil on the third line that included Goodrow, had one in every of his most engaged nights of the 12 months. The road demanded extra time.
This was not a doom-and-gloom night time, nevertheless it was instructive. Even when the road of demarcation wasn’t essentially stark, it was evident. Particulars, particulars, particulars. The B’s placed on a clinic of mastering them whereas the Blueshirts forgot to cross the occasional “T” and dot the occasional “I.”
The bar has been set. The Rangers must be higher. The Rangers must be completely different. Standard received’t be ok.