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GM1: NYI 4 NYR 0, Rangers outplayed and outclassed in season opener

January 14, 2021, 11:13 PM ET [630 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers came out flat early, got disheartened by two quick goals and failed to generate much of an attack in a 4-0 Opening Night loss to the Islanders. When they did generate any semblance of offense, Semyon Varlamov was up to the task. New York gets a chance at revenge Saturday against the Isles back at MSG.

Game recap:

David Quinn Post-Game:

A few thoughts, and not going to go overboard, as it is just one game:
1) Flat, To me the team was flat. The two goals in 79 seconds, especially how both were scored, took a lot of wind out of their sails. But I wasn't enamored by the response to the two markers and the body language on the ice. The default argument is to blame coach David Quinn for not having his team ready to play. I do give the Isles credit, as their structure is difficult to play against, but the team did look out of sync.

2) Out of sync. Unsure if it was because of the Isles' defense, but the team looked out of sync. Too frequently, the Rangers tried cross ice passes rather than shots on net. Mika Zibanejad looked like he was still finding his legs, especially early. The chemistry I expected to see was nowhere in existence and the team looked slow through the neutral zone.

3) Line shuffles. Quinn moved players around, especially in the second and third. Kappo Kakko was taken off the second line and moved to the third. Julien Gauthier, who had a solid game, slid up a line next to Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. The power plays and penalty kills wreaked havoc with the lines, with Brendan Lemiuex substantially impacted, even though he did create some pressure on one of his shifts, followed later by his taking a penalty, resulting in pine time.

4) Momentum. The first goal, which came after a blocked shot by Adam Fox on the PK, tipped the scales for the Isles. The second, just 79 seconds later, occurred on a clearing attempt by the Isles that resulted in a 2-on-1 with Anders Lee, who was making his way off the ice, beating Igor Sheshterkin off his glove. The response from there was concerning to me, as the team never really found a way to get back in sync.

5) Sheshterkin - he had no chance on the first goal, as he was leaning one way when the shot was blocked, creating the five hole for Brock Nelson. On the second, I thought K'Andre Miller played the 2-on-1 correctly, leaving the shooter for the goalie. As Steve Valiquette pointed out, last year, Igor was almost perfect in those situations. This time. I thought he wasn't out far enough and wasn't as aggressive as usual. The third goal occurred due to a poor clear by Jack Johnson that hit the referee and created a turnover. Tony DeAngelo put the puck in Johnson's skates and then gave Mathew Barzal room to shoot, but I do think that was a shot Igor could have stopped, even though it was perfectly placed. Sheshterkin rebounded from there to play a solid game, but it was too late.

6) Defense - I thought Miller had a deer in the headlight look early. Quinn benched him for part of the second and third. That likely was to reduce the pressure on the kid, but I probably would have kept throwing him out there to work through his issues and gain experience. Jacob Trouba was okay, not great, as he didn't stand out either way. Johnson certainly didn't distinguish himself positively, taking the penalty that led to the first goal and turning the puck over that led to the third, and I wouldn't be shocked if Brendan Smith gets in Saturday. ADA did not have a good game at all, struggling defensively, taking a bad holding penalty on Barzal, then compounding it with an unsportsmanlike penalty.

7) Alexis Lafreniere - admitted to some nevers early, Settled in as the game wore on. Needed to go more north and south and be more aggressive, as he was deferential, which wasn't surprising.

8) Quinn - if the team comes out unprepared and flat, then i will be more concerned. Not the ideal first game or reaction by the squad, but the Isles get some credit. A few people are already predicting Jacques Martin will take over at some point, as he was brought in just in case the team struggles. I am not there after one game.

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