Mika Zibanejad and Rangers looking for solutions after losses in 5 of 6 contests

Rangers offensive frustration
The New York Islanders and New York Rangers tangle up at the Islanders goal in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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Is there a team that has been as unlucky as the Rangers have been over the last week? After an impressive 2-0-0 start, the Blueshirts have lost five of their last six games with four of the losses coming against teams that are under .500. 

It hasn’t been a complete disappointment though. 

The Rangers have an xGF of 18.5, fourth in the entire NHL. The expected goals for stat are used to show one major thing: New York should be winning a lot more games than they have over the last week. 

“The analytic guys are wrong… We always beg for them to shoot the puck more last year and we’re getting more shots. They’ve just got to go in.” Gerad Gallant said after the Rangers’ 3-0 loss to the rival Islanders on Wednesday. 

Frustration has begun to seep through the starting roster. The key will now be to how the roster responds to their first dose of adversity this season. 

“I think it’s not always the most clear-cut chance you’ll see. There’s a lot of second or third opportunities right now. I think we’re creating enough to get something but can’t get that kind of momentum. We have to work through this. We have no other choice.” Mika Zibanejad said after the game. 

Zibanejad and the leadership group have maintained that the response will come from the Rangers this season. 

“If I know this team and I think I do, we’re not just going to lay down and die and just give up…we’re going to keep working.” 

It’s been a frustrating time for the Rangers’ offense but none more so than Zibanejad and his powerplay unit with Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider. The Rangers went 0-3 on the extra-man advantage on Wednesday and are 1 for their last 15. While the Rangers are still getting excellent chances at even strength offensively, their inability to score on the man advantage has severely limited New York’s offense. 

“Obviously you’re going to play against good penalty kills that do a good job on you but at the same time, I think we’re trying to focus on what we can do better. Since we’ve been playing against good PKs, we’re obviously not going to be ok with it.” Zibanejad added. 

Zibanejad isn’t the only player whose been frustrated by the opposition. Kaapo Kakko, Mika’s linemate has an excellent rush in which he weaved his way through two defenders, but was stonewalled by Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Zibanejad’s other linemate, Chris Kreider hasn’t scored a goal since the second game of the season. 

The Rangers go as their top lines go and unfortunately the lack of production from each group is a key reason why the Rangers sit at just 3-3-2 in the young season. With 75 more games to go, there are plenty of opportunities to get back on track though. 

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