Losing two games in a row isn’t an uncommon thing during an 82-game hockey season. For the New York Rangers to finally drop their second straight game midway through December is incredibly impressive.
Now, the organization needs to pick itself up and respond to the first test of adversity this year.
After falling in a disappointing 6-2 blowout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, the Blueshirts responded with a 4-0 shutout loss to the rival Washington Capitals in Peter Laviolette’s return to the Nation’s Capital after being fired following a playoff-less 2022-23 campaign.
The two straight losses are the first time this season that the Rangers have failed to respond to adversity this year. That doesn’t mean it’s panic time this time of year though.
“It was not good from the start to the finish,” Laviolette explained after the loss. “No sense dissecting it here publicly…We’ll need to be a lot better.”
New York’s recent stretch of poor play has come on almost every level of the ice. While they were able to squeak by the San Jose Sharks last week in a 6-5 final, the stretch of play has left some questioning the defensive units as a whole. The Rangers have given up four or more goals in each of their last three contests.
According to some in the locker room, there has been a lack of fight that has been missing in recent weeks after a torrid 18-4-2 start to the year.
“I think it’s something we had early on,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “I think it’s gotten a little complacent. Maybe let our foot off the gas a little bit. We can’t win that way. We have to get back to that fighting attitude.”
Despite the concern that a couple of games like this could bring, New York’s leadership group, a true calling card to their success, has made sure no one is panicking in mid-December.
“You don’t want to lose two in a row,” Trouba added. “We know the type of team we can be. The panic is not in the room. We’re going to take this on the chin and move on.”
Some help could be on the way for the Blueshirts in the coming weeks. While New York has been able to build a healthy lead in the Metropolitan division, they also have lost important role players Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil to injuries. While both are expected back this year, that’s two fundamental pieces to the young core the Rangers have, that they haven’t been able to deploy in recent weeks.
It can be seen as a big reason why the Blueshirts have struggled in recent weeks.
As the Rangers try to get healthy, they have plenty of challenging games in front of them to try and get back on track. Their fast start to the year has given them the cushion many teams would dream of, but that lead in the division could evaporate quickly. How the Blueshirts respond to their first stretch of adversity could show just how good this iteration of the team is.
And it doesn’t look like even Vegas is panicking on the team either.
Updated Stanley Cup Playoff Odds (courtesy of FanDuel)
Colorado Avalanche – +750
Carolina Hurricanes – +950
Dallas Stars – +1,000
Vegas Golden Knights – +1,000
New York Rangers – +1,100