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Rangers out-classed against Bruins: long way to go before title contention

Rangers outclassed by Bruins
Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) is congratulated by teammates after scoring an empty-net goal as New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) skates to the bench in the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photos

The New York Rangers have not played bad hockey through the first 12 games of the season. At 6-4-2, New York has two more point totals than last year’s group that went to the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Thursday night’s 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins showed one main truth at this point in the season:

The Rangers aren’t a championship contender yet. 

It’s easy to see how Thursday’s game could be a mirage. New York was deadlocked with the top team in the Atlantic for the majority of the game. Ryan Lindgren’s injury ultimately turned the tide though and sent the home-crowd Ranger fanbase home disappointed. 

There are deeper issues though that ultimately shows just how far the Blueshirts have to go to get back into the conversation of true title contenders. 

Injuries

Injuries are a part of every team’s season. How a team responds is just as important as praying everyone stays healthy though. Filip Chytil and Vitali Kravtsov have dealt with upper-body injuries over the last week. For the most part, New York has been able to move past the loss that two talented wingers bring with solid play from their top two lines. 

The injury to Lindgren though shows how fragile the defensive pairings really are. And if the defensive pairings are this fragile, it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Rangers struggled to get a stop when they needed it on Thursday. 

Things change in hockey very quickly. The Rangers shouldn’t be expected to be bad or even mediocre for the majority of the season, there’s too much talent on the roster for that. 

But if the injuries continue to pile up, one of the most talented teams in the NHL could absolutely become one of the league’s biggest disappointments. 

Offensive Production

Let’s be blunt here: the Rangers have been getting plenty of chances in the early portion of the season, but they need to start cashing in on a lot of these great chances. 

Should fans expect the high expected goals for average to continue without showing up on the scoresheet? No. But if the Rangers want to consider themselves Stanley Cup title contenders, then the offense needs to start producing at a much higher clip than they are right now. 

Injuries can hurt a talented defensive group, but if the likes of Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck, Mika Zibanejad, and the kids simply can’t finish, the Rangers won’t be the same team that simply found ways to win last season. 

New York Rangers center Barclay Goodrow fights with Boston Bruins center Trent Frederic (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)AP Photos

We are a long way away from the Rangers’ 3-1 season opening night win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The league itself has changed since that opening game. If the Rangers want to be considered true contenders, Thursday’s loss to Boston doesn’t help their case. 

The beauty of this is the fact that we are still just a small part of the NHL season. There’s plenty of time for New York to prove that they really are a championship-caliber club. 

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