Columbus Blue Jackets: The Battle’s Aftermath – Blue Line Station

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 13: Lukas Sedlak #45 of the Columbus Blue Jackets scores an empty net goal during the third period of a game against the New York Rangers on October 13, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 13: Lukas Sedlak #45 of the Columbus Blue Jackets scores an empty net goal during the third period of a game against the New York Rangers on October 13, 2017 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Columbus Blue Jackets picked up their second win in a row and third straight Metro win with a 3-1 regulation victory over the New York Rangers at Nationwide Arena on Friday.

With Friday’s win, the Columbus Blue Jackets have won three out the season’s first four games. All of those victories have come over Metro Division opponents too, which makes it even better.

The Rangers put up a hell of a fight, though. They struck first with a Kevin Hayes goal in the first period and consistently pelted Sergei Bobrovsky with shots through the first two periods, but a poor overall final 20 minutes cost the Rangers yet another game.

While the Columbus Blue Jackets are riding high with a 3-1-0 record to kick of the 2017-18 season, the New York Rangers are not having as good of a time. Quite the opposite, actually. At 1-4-0, New York sits at the very bottom of the Metro. Although it’s still early, the lack of points early on may very well cost the Rangers at the end of the year.

Recap: CBJ victorious over Rangers

To talk about the Rangers’ struggles and their loss Friday night, we sat down with Josh Lipman. Josh is a contributor to FanSided’s New York Rangers site, BlueLineStation.com, where he has been since June. A longtime NYR fan, Josh has seen pretty much all the highs and lows of the Rangers since their run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1997.

First thoughts from the game?

Josh Lipman: It went about how I expected. Sonny Milano is impressive and I think Columbus got a steal in Artemi Panarin.

How did you think the Rangers played?

The Rangers played pretty terribly, which is par for the course so far this year. Nothing has looked too good aside from the first line and first power play unit.

NYR got doubled up in shots on goal in the 3rd period after having a 29-25 advantage after two. What happened and how do you guys fix that in the future?

They only have two real centers right now in Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. I think they ran out of gas a bit or Columbus upped their game. The Rangers don’t have the forward depth to compete right now. You can’t expect to win giving significant minutes to some combination of David Desharnais and Paul Carey at center.

This loss puts the Rangers at 1-4-0 to start the season, your worst start in four years. Why has this season been such a struggle early on?

Jeff Gorton traded away Derek Stepan in the offseason and they didn’t really do anything to replace him. They lost Oscar Lindberg to expansion too, which amplifies their problems down the middle.

Gorton added a lot of defensive talent, which was supposed to balance things out. Unfortunately, Alain Vigneault has some “strange” ideas about defense pairings, to put it kindly. The top four is supposed to be Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith. Everybody thought McDonagh was gonna have a real partner this year after years of being chained to Dan Girardi. Instead, Vigneault keeps shoving combinations of Marc Staal, Nick Holden and Steven Kampfer into the top two pairings. He also refuses to use Tony DeAngelo, who was supposed to be one of the keys to the Stepan deal.

How do the Rangers turn this around and make the playoffs? What has to change with the team?

The Rangers need to fix their forward depth, either through trade or gambling on young talent. Rookie Filip Chytil made the team out of camp with a really strong preseason, but Vigneault gave him 12 minutes of total ice time in the first two games before sending him to the pressbox. He’s probably not ready, but Vigneault didn’t let him play enough to even find out. It’s been a recurring problem with this coach. He refuses to trust younger players and let them learn from their mistakes. Meanwhile, Staal could turn the puck over eight times in a row and still not miss a shift.

I’m not really sure anything can improve until they make a coaching change. The problem is that it looks like Lindy Ruff is heir to the throne and he shares a lot of Vigneault’s flaws.

Next: 3 things we've learned through 3 games

Our next meeting is on Nov. 6 when we come to The Garden. You guys will be 10 games into the season by then, so what do you think your record will be going into that game?

I’ll be charitable and say they’ll be 3-7. Maybe 3-6-1 if they get hot.