Gotham Squads Are Bombing Early and Often
When the NHL realigned this season, they obviously kept the Rangers, Islanders, and Devils in the same division.
That's a good thing right now, because they deserve each other. And their fans deserve a discount.
All three have gotten off to forgettable starts. The Islanders, who improved last season and made the playoffs, are 2-2-2 but just lost to the previously winless Buffalo Sabres, at home no less. The Devils, who played for the Stanley Cup in 2012 but didn't make the playoffs last season, are 0-3-3 and in the middle of a long road trip. The Rangers, who had the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2012 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs last year, have started 1-4 and still have four more road games to play before returning to Madison Square Garden. At least they got out of Cali alive; after giving up nine goals to San José and helping Thomáš Hertl go viral, they showed that performance wasn't a fluke by letting six more in at Anaheim while getting whitewashed.
So what's wrong with these three Metro teams?
The Isles were playing well until that loss to a lousy Buffalo club. They'd dropped two tough games to Chicago and Nashville on the road by identical 3-2 scores before blowing a late lead to the Sabres and losing in a shootout. Frans Neilsen, Michael Grabner, and captain John Tavares each have seven points in six games, while goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has a 2.29 goals against average. Still, that's somehow not been enough.
The Devils have been in every game, but have still lost two shootouts and an overtimer. That included blowing a 3-0 third-period lead to Edmonton before falling in the shootout. New Jersey is struggling offensively and misses former leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk, who is playing in Russia this season. Martin Broudeur, in his final season, and Cory Schneider have played well in goal for Devils but neither has picked up a win so far this year.
The Rangers' offensive woes have continued this season; with Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin on the injured list, that doesn't look to change soon. To say defense has been porous would actually be a compliment, and All-Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist may say he's not thinking about his contract situation, but his 4.21 goals against average says otherwise.
Yes, it's a long time to April, but at the rate these teams are digging holes for themselves, the only playoffs they'll make will be in China.