SUNRISE, Fla. — David Quinn coached his 100th game with the Rangers on Saturday night against the Panthers at the BB&T Center.
“Someone just mentioned that to me today,” Quinn said. “And I had no clue. It’s a nice round number. That’s all it is. It’s a nice round number.”
Quinn’s record going into Saturday was 40-43-16, including 8-7-2 this season.
The 53-year-old was signed away from Boston University to a five-year contract before last season to lead a rebuild, and a rebuild he is leading. The Rangers have seven players 21 years or younger on their roster and are showing the inconsistencies that come with so much youth.
For example, the Rangers had been on a 5-1-1 run when they were blown out by the Lightning on Thursday, 9-3. Both Quinn and the players spoke of the team’s inability to stop bad stretches from spiraling out of control within games.
But, on the positive side, Quinn believes his team has a knack for coming back from poor performances with good ones. The Rangers had earned a win in each of their last four games after a defeat.
“We’ve done a good job of bouncing back and playing much better,” Quinn told reporters before Saturday’s game. “I’m banking on that trend continuing.”
Quinn was hired by general manager Jeff Gorton and then-team president Glen Sather. After Sather retired, new team president John Davidson said on the day of his hiring that Quinn and his staff had done “a terrific job” in creating “the proper culture in an organization to try to win hockey games.”
The Rangers went into Saturday tied for sixth in the Metropolitan Division. Davidson had said when training camp opened that a commitment to youth doesn’t mean he’s given up hope of the Rangers making the playoffs.
“I want improvement, for sure,” Davidson said. “[I’d] love to make the playoffs … I mean, playoffs is a goal, for sure. But there’s got to be improvement the right way, that you can count on, long term.’’
Henrik Lundqvist, who started in goal on Saturday, reached a milestone of his own and was hoping for a second. Lundqvist tied Grant Fuhr for 10th place on the NHL’s all-time appearances list with his 868th.
A victory against Florida would have been Lundqvist’s 454th, which would have tied Curtis Joseph for fifth place on the NHL's all-time list.
But the Rangers would have to play a lot better than they did on Thursday, when the Lightning scored four times in less than seven minutes to open the game. Lundqvist, who relieved Alexandar Georgiev after that flurry, gave up four goals in the second period and was switched out again for Georgiev to start the third.
Quinn said one example of the Rangers’ inconsistency this season is the amount of scoring chances they have allowed in their defeats vs. their victories.
“It’s crazy the swing in scoring chances from game to game,” Quinn said. “There are games we give up 12 and there are games we give up 28. We’ve got to find that happy medium. Our bad nights can’t be giving up 28 scoring chances. You have no chance to win when you do that. In the eight games we’ve won, I bet in all those games we’ve given up 15 or less scoring chances. Yet, the games we lose we’re giving up 25, 26, 28 scoring chances, and you can’t win that way.”
Notes & quotes: Kaapo Kakko missed his second straight game with the flu . . . Defenseman Jacob Trouba, who left Thursday’s game in the second period with an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup.