The New York Rangers’ weekend began on Saturday with a gritty, hard fought win over their cross-town rivals the New York Islanders.
It ended with an ugly 7-5 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets that was most definitely not anywhere near as close as the final score indicated, and resulted in first-year head coach David Quinn shredding his team’s effort and toughness after it was all over.
“They just won every one-on-one battle,” fumed Quinn, via the Rangers’ website. “It was unbelievable how when every time we went into a corner they came out with the puck. Our lack of ability to be physical and fish for pucks, it just looked like we had never been over D zone coverage.”
He did not stop there. When asked about the team’s dreadful night in the face-off circle and if that represented a lack of commitment from their wingers, he didn’t really hold back.
“Our guys on the flanks didn’t help at all. Listen, that’s a team competes hard on pucks. They test your mettle, and we failed miserably tonight … miserably. Our lack of determination in one-on-one battles, fishing for pucks, you do that in this league that is what happens. You get your asses handed to you.”
He was then asked if this was the type of game that he would make the team watch, or if if was one of those games that was so bad that the coach would just want to throw the tape away and forget it ever happened.
“We’re going to watch this, and we’re going to learn from this,” said Quinn. “We have got zero chance if we have 20 guys in uniform not willing to compete over pucks and get into people and have a little bit of snarl to your game.”
He also lamented the lack of physical play for the entire season.
“I don’t think we’re physical enough,” said Quinn, when asked if this was a season-long concern or just a recent blip. “I don’t think we have enough grit when it comes to one-on-one battles. We’ve survived it, we’ve talked about it, we addressed it this morning we will continue to address it. I wish we could have a practice where I could throw some pucks into the corner and see who comes out with it.”
There was also this, via the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis where Quinn expressed his disappointment after a couple of positive games.
“You’re going to lose hockey games. But you better want to battle somebody. It’s just ridiculous. Three games where we feel good about our effort and our compete, and then we come out here and do that? It’s a freaking joke.”
So that is an obviously unhappy coach.
This was always going to be a tough year for Quinn and the Rangers, with a rookie coach trying to steer the ship for an obviously rebuilding team. There have been some ups and downs along the way, but things have really started to go off course in recent weeks with the team now having lost six of its past seven games and only winning five out of 18 games since December 1.
With the trade deadline looming and several veteran players perhaps on their way out the door it is only likely to get worse before it gets better.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.