A little over a month into his first season as Rangers captain, Jacob Trouba had nothing but a laugh.
“We talked a lot before the year about how this season was going to be different from the year before, but I don’t think anyone predicted it would be like this,” Trouba told The Post after the 4- 1 of Sunday on the coyotes in the garden. “I think we tried to stay balanced and as positive as possible because we know we have a good group here who want to succeed.
“We didn’t allow negativity to creep in even when it got frustrating. This was a central point. We’ve had a team chat so far, but there’s been a lot of chat between players, a lot of chat within the management group.
“If we weren’t playing hard, that would be one thing,” continued Trouba, who suffered from nagging ailments that kept him out of several practices. ” But this is not the case.
“So we’re not going down. We know what we have to do as a team. We know what we are.
It almost made Trouba laugh that the Blueshirts could come away with this one after losing 2-1 to the Predators in Nashville with a much better effort on Saturday night or after losing to the Islanders 4-3 at home on Tuesday with a better performance, or losing in a shootout to Colorado a few weeks ago with superior effort.
Because the Blueshirts had been dominated 20-4 during the first 28 minutes by a club from Arizona which had lost in New Jersey on Saturday. The Rangers had no legs, they had no verve. They did, however, have a vintage (do that, 2021-22) Igor Shesterkin, who probably made a bigger difference in this one than he had all season.
“Shesty kept us in it and we found a way to stick with it. It was last year’s recipe,” Trouba said. “I don’t mean to laugh, we want to play a much more solid game, but when you look at that compared to some of our other games where we haven’t been awarded, it just doesn’t make sense.
“It does not mean anything.”
Shesterkin has raised his save percentage to .909, just above the league average of .906, with several high-danger saves to prop up his roster team until they can follow his lead and run with it. . The goaltender was never besieged, but he followed the puck well, got up on the first shots and controlled the rebounds.
“It was Igor,” Chris Kreider told the Post. “That’s what he’s given us a lot more times than not since he’s been here.
“We know we can count on him.”
Rangers took a 1-0 lead when Barclay Goodrow took advantage of a blunder by goalkeeper Connor Ingram to take one at 15:05 of the second. Thus energized, the club extended the lead to 2-0 just 1:08 later on Adam Fox’s snapper from the high slot.
There would be no relapse in the third period. Kreider got a power play deflection for a 3-0 lead, the Coyotes broke the shutout at 8:33 on a power play before Ryan Carpenter finished with his first goal as a Ranger. The score may not have been indicative of the degree of difficulty, but the Blueshirts are built to win by overlapping their goalie and power play while filling in the rest.
“The underlying numbers objectively indicate that we are playing better than our [8-6-3] record,” Kreider said. “We talked a lot before the year about focusing on process and not results, but at the same time we know we have to get results.
“So I would say that even though we are not exactly where we want to be, we know that we are a good team capable of playing good hockey consistently. And that’s what Jacob reinforced as captain. His message was to believe in us, that we are capable of meeting our expectations.”
The players’ ability to stay relentlessly positive was one of their greatest attributes a year ago. It was more of a challenge at the start of this season. Outside noise is louder. External expectations are greater.
“Listen, there is negativity that becomes toxic and undermines a team. We don’t have that here,” Kreider said. “There was some frustration, but the key is to turn this into a 60 minute resolution and that’s Jacob’s message.
“Our goal is to dig deeper, to be more committed to the details and to our system. Trust is key and I can promise you, we trust each other and we trust our system, when we were going through the rebuild, we We were facing reserve goalkeepers. Now we get the best game from our opponents every night.
“Every night is a battle. We are prepared for this.