Give him a Boston accent, sprinkle in the phrase, “east-west,” and you could imagine Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant channeling David Quinn during Tuesday’s press briefing that followed his team’s 5-1 loss to Calgary on Monday at the Garden.
“Like, we want to make those skilled plays all the time and there’s a fine line between making those skilled plays that work and those skilled plays that wind up in the back of our net on Grade A scoring chances,” Gallant said in pointing to the succession of damaging turnovers on finesse-type plays against the Flames. “We can’t make those mistakes. We got away with it in Toronto, but not [Monday].
“Those pucks that came from our defensemen to the half-wall and we lost those battles, that’s what I’m talking about. Too many times, it stopped at the blue line and went back into our zone. Those little fancy plays through your feet don’t work most of the time.”
Gallant took to the video screen as a teaching method in a meeting that preceded practice, a rather unusual tactic for this coach. But it is clear the approach was warranted.
“He doesn’t have a ton of video all the time, but today he showed us video and showed us that it wasn’t good,” said Patrik Nemeth, one of the culprits. “Which is good.
“You for sure want to stop the bleeding right away when you’re not playing within your structure, when you’re not paying attention to details. I thought the meeting was good. It was justified, for sure. You can’t let that slip away and be like, ‘Oh, it’s early in the season, let’s just keep going.’ It was good to show what it looked like.”
The Rangers have scored nine five-on-five goals in seven games, one apiece from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, and none from Artemi Panarin. That type of output is just not going to cut it, and most certainly not with a total of three power-play goals, all scored by Kreider from in front.
So Gallant was asked if he needs more from the, quote, unquote, skill guys.
“One hundred percent,” he said. “We’re going nowhere if the skill guys aren’t our best players.”
Kaapo Kakko, still officially on injured reserve, skated in practice on the line with Ryan Strome and Panarin. … Ryan Reaves, who suffered a lower-body injury after tangling against the boards with Oliver Kylington 3:29 into the match, did not skate and his status is categorized as “day-to-day.” … Zibanejad, Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren, who missed several late first-period shifts after blocking a shot with his foot/ankle, did not skate. All were listed as receiving “maintenance.”
The Blueshirts play host to the Blue Jackets on Friday, then embark Saturday on a four-game swing through Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. They will have played three home games and nine on the road at the conclusion of the trip.
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