David Quinn coaches the Rangers against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 16, 2018, at Madison Square Garden.

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Hartnett: Rangers Playing With Right Attitude Under Quinn

Team Has Been Physical, Disciplined, Aggressive Offensively

Sean Hartnett
October 17, 2018 - 11:30 am

The dividends of David Quinn’s philosophies are beginning to pay off for the Rangers. From start to finish, the Blueshirts gave wholehearted effort to earn a 3-2 shootout win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

This team has been reinvigorated by the new face behind the bench. The Rangers play with a consistent physical edge, get in the opponents' faces and maintain good structure and discipline in the defensive end. Aside from a wild 8-5 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this month, Quinn’s men have strung together solid defensive efforts.

The Rangers rank 21st in the NHL with 3.33 goals against per game, which is inflated by the high-scoring defeat to the Canes. If you were to remove this anomaly of a game from the equation, the Rangers are a 2.4-goals-against team in all other games this season. That would rank the Blueshirts seventh best in the league.

Importantly, the Blueshirts are beginning to evolve into a shoot-first team after years of being pass-first and at times overly fancy. The difference was clear when Kevin Hayes one-timed a rocket past Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov to give the Rangers a 2-1 second-period lead.

It doesn’t have to be pretty. If you shoot hard, shoot often and make the opposing goalie work, you’re going to eventually be rewarded on the scoreboard.

The Rangers consistently tested Varlamov with a strong net-front presence in Tuesday’s win. They crashed the net hard, swarmed Varlamov, took away his vision and got on the end of rebound chances.

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“Obviously, if we’re going to score goals, we’ve got to get the puck to the net,” Quinn said. “We took a step forward tonight in that area. I thought we got pucks to the net and we went at it a little harder. One of the reasons why I thought we won the penalty game was because we tried to earn our ice. When you try to earn your ice, people have to defend you and take penalties. So I thought that was a step in the right direction for us tonight.”

The effort is there, the discipline and composure are there. This Rangers team is playing with the right attitude.

“I think we’re starting to get our system little by little,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “We’re starting to figure out when it’s time to switch. Even when we’re making some mistakes and breaking down a little bit, we’re working hard to recover for our teammates. That’s what it comes down to. When you’re working hard and you’re accountable and making sure that you’re bailing your buddy out when it’s time, those big plays seem to bail us out.”

The Rangers’ spirit will be tested in the second of the Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back. It doesn’t come any harder than a road visit to the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Keep in mind, the Capitals are well-rested. Their last game was a 4-2 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

For the Rangers to come away with a victory in D.C., it’s going to take a mistake-free night and a dig-deep effort.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @HartnettHockey​.