The New York Rangers are 1-3 to start the season and have allowed 19 goals over that stretch — so no surprise that, on Wednesday, head coach Alain Vigneault called out his defense.
AV says #NYR are committing “way too many turnovers” and says his veteran defensemen “need to play better”
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) October 15, 2014
AV says D-men not performing up to standings. Says Marc Staal not the Staal he saw in playoffs but same could be said about McD and G.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) October 15, 2014
Vigneault not shy about saying just now that Staal, McDonagh, Girardi all have to be better, in addition to depth defense issues #NYR
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) October 15, 2014
New York currently sits 29th among 30 NHL teams in goals allowed per game — 4.75, only Edmonton (5.00) is worse — and the veteran trio of Staal, McDonagh and Girardi has had a tough go of things. In a 6-3 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday night, penalties were an issue; Staal and McDonagh were both nailed in the opening frame, with McDonagh’s interference penalty leading to the Islanders’ opening tally.
Some will point to journeyman Mike Kostka — currently in the lineup to replace Dan Boyle (broken hand) — as the biggest issue on defense last night, and they have a point; Kostka had a pair of costly giveaways, none more egregious than this one early in the third period that led to Kyle Okposo’s goal:
But with that in mind, Staal — who was paired with Kostka last night — wasn’t the only blueliner making mistakes.
“We made a couple of mistakes with the puck and the puck was in our net,” he explained, per the New York Post. “But they weren’t little mistakes; they were big mistakes, and then it just snowballed from there.”
The Rangers are desperately seeking to avoid a repeat of last season, when they started 3-7-0. McDonagh was blunt about his team’s need to turn things around.
“We’ve got a lot of guys back and we went through a similar thing last year, but I think last year was more of a debacle than this year,” he told NHL.com. “I really don’t want to talk any more about last year because this is a new group and we’re trying to find our game, find our rhythm.
“It’s there in spurts, very little spurts, but as a whole we need everybody to get in sync here.”