1. More needed from the big guns
This is a simple one and it goes without saying, but the New York Rangers need a hell of a lot more from their superstars if they are to be competitive in the East Division, and be in with a chance of stealing the fourth Playoff spot come the end of the 2020-21 season.
It has been well documented that No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Alexis Lafreniere has struggled with just one goal in 14 games and, while he should be allowed to adapt to life in the NHL, it would help his team considerably if he were to get hot and absolutely go off at any point this year.
However, most of the burden falls on players like Mika Zibanejad, who just hasn’t looked right since dealing with a bout of COVID-19 during the offseason. The No. 1 center missed most of training camp and, having also dealt with a couple of minor injuries since, hasn’t gotten into a flow and his lack of production is hurting this team.
Zibanejad, who carved out a career-year in 2019-20 with 75 points (41 G, 34 A) in 57 games, has only three points (1 G, 2 A) in 14 games this season while averaging 20:42 of total ice time, and he’s shooting the puck at just a 2.3 percent clip. That obviously isn’t going to get the job done and the Rangers will need their star pivot to figure things out, and quick, if they are to get back on track here.
The same applies to the likes of Chris Kreider who has just four goals and one assist for five points in 14 games with a plus / minus rating of -6, and Kaapo Kakko who has three points (2 G, 1 A). It says a lot when role players in the ilk of Colin Blackwell and Phillip Di Giuseppe are producing at a similar rate.
Granted, Artemi Panarin, who is expected back for tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers after missing a couple of games, has come as advertised yet again with 15 points (5 G, 10 A) in 12 games, but the New York Rangers will need their other stars to step up and deliver in order to boost 5-on-5 scoring that is ranked in the bottom-five in the league having scored just 1.91 goals per 60 minutes and, as a result, get this thing turned around and at least be competitive in the East Division.