Winning has a tendency to cover some noticeable warts up, so a 4-1-1 start from the New York Rangers provided some good feelings around Madison Square Garden as the 2021-22 NHL season gets underway.
But Monday night’s 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames saw a familiar foe rear its ugly head into the Rangers’ ranks: Turnovers.
The Rangers committed 20 giveaways compared to just six by the Flames, including a telegraphed pass in the defensive zone by blueliner Patrik Nemeth to Calgary forward Andrew Mangiapane early in the second period to make it a 2-0 game.
“We just made so many bad turnovers,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “We tried making too many cute plays instead of trying to play up the boards.
“That really cost us the hockey game.”
This is nothing new for the Rangers this year already, though. Over their first seven games, they’ve committed 53 defensive zone giveaways and have a giveaway-to-takeaway rating of minus-34. That’s second-worst in the NHL.
In the offensive zone, they’re not much better with 27 giveaways. Only the New York Islanders have more.
“I think it’s more just puck management,” forward Ryan Strome said of his team’s turnover woes. “When we had chances [Monday], we were simple, we were straight lines. It’s kind of what you’ve seen the last little while… Then we’re throwing pucks in the middle a little bit, I think a little bit sloppy and not our best execution.”
The issues permeate throughout the roster, too, as five skaters rank within the NHL’s top-40 in giveaways: Ryan Lindgren (8), Artemi Panarin (8), Adam Fox (7), Mika Zibanejad (7), and Jacob Trouba (6).
“Just overall sloppy,” Trouba said of the Rangers’ play. “It’s not always going to be pretty, it’s not always going to be the sexy type of game sometimes. So we just have to take our medicine.”