4 Keys For The Rangers

Rick-Nash-NYR-640x430

Last year at this time, the Rangers were dominating the competition on the way to the President’s Trophy. This year . . . not so much. They went 24 games, which spanned from November 25th to January 22nd, without winning consecutive games. That’s insane and out of no where, as the Rangers started the season at a blistering pace. On January 21st, they were 16-3-2. Since then, 11-14-3. There is still time for this team to find that form again. They are playoff tested and have the talent and experience to work through this funk. Here are three areas that they should be keying in on

    1. Defensive Zone marking

The amount of players who are allowed to shoot in front of Lundqvist and Raanta is inexcusable. Constantly opposing players are left unmarked in the slot leaving the Ranger net minders vulnerable. These issues were sort of there in the beginning of the season, but Lundqvist was playing out of his mind, so he covered it up. However, over the last 2 months, he has only been good, but not great to turn aside high quality scoring attempts. For these team to get on a roll again, they need to clean up the front of their net.

    2. Special Teams

The Rangers power play over the last few seasons has never been a dominant group, but their penalty kill has, which makes it so bizarre that they rank as the 23rd best PK unit. There have been numerous games this season where their inability to kill a late penalty cost them the game. They need to be smarter with the puck in order to kill off these penalties. I can’t even say they need to take less penalties, because they are 21st in total penalty time. As for their power play, the Rangers got off to a hot start with their power play, but have been ice cold since, which has dropped their PP unit to 19th. Below average special teams are not a recipe for a run at the Cup.

    3. Rick Nash

Last year, Nash had his best season in a Rangers uniform netting 42 goals and 27 assists in 79 games. It is safe to say he won’t be anywhere near those numbers this year, as he only has 12 goals and 21 assists in 45 games. Nash scored big goals all season last year and gave the Rangers the extra boost they needed. The Rangers could sure use a boost to finish out this season.

    4. The Road

I feel like a broken record, as I keep referring to “last year,” but last year the Rangers set their franchise record for wins on the road with 28. That was actually 3 more wins than they had at home! This year has been such a stark difference. At home, the Rangers are 18-5-2, which is great. But on the road, the Rangers are only 9-12-3, which is far from great. A lot of their splits can be viewed in home/away.

Penalty kill:

Home: 87.5% (6th)
Road: 72.2% (29th)

Power Play:

Home: 20.3% (11th)
Road: 14.7% (23rd)

Goals per game:

Home: 3.32 (2nd)
Road: 2.38 (18th)

Goals against per game:

Home: 2.24 (6th)
Road: 2.96 (21st)

As you can see, none of that is good. A dominant home team can only get a team so far. To make a run at the Cup, they need to get better on the road . . . by a lot. We’ve seen them be a good road team over the years, so this can turn around fast as they push for the playoffs.

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