Friday, January 25, 2013
Biggest problems for Rangers
By Matt Ehalt
After entering the season with high expectations, the Rangers started the shortened season 1-3. Here's a look at some of the problems that have plagued the Rangers through the first four games.
Here's the biggest problem for the Rangers: they have been absolutely been dismal on the power play. After struggling all of last season with the man-advantage, the Rangers have started 2-for-18. Ouch.
Trailing 2-1 in the third period on Thursday, the Rangers couldn't cash in on a 5-on-3 chance and then weren't able to score on the 5-on-4 that followed. In two games this season, the Rangers have been 0-for-5 with the advantage, and in the other two they've been 1-for-4.
It's a good sign that the Rangers have been able to get at least four power plays each game. They just have to figure out ways to turn those opportunities into goals.
The Rangers have only scored eight goals through four games, which isn't good enough. While the top stars have been played well for the most part, as Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Rick Nash have a combined 11 points (to put that in perspective the rest of the roster has 11 points also). As a team, they've been outshot 135-107 heading into Saturday's game vs. Toronto.
Captain Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Brian Boyle and Chris Kreider have combined for one goal and three assists so far, and the teams needs more from them. Kreider, who played so well in the playoffs last year, was a healthy scratch in Thursday's loss to Philadelphia. Coach John Tortorella even said the team has not ruled out sending him back to the AHL.
Another problem within the offense has been a struggle on the faceoffs. The Rangers are 109-125 through their first four games, showing they're not finding ways to corral the puck enough. In their two games against Boston, the Rangers are an abysmal 40-71 on faceoffs.
The Rangers have given up three or more goals in three games so far, with only Thursday's 2-1 loss to Philadelphia as the only game where they didn't allow a trio of goals. They're allowing an average of 3.5 per game.
The Rangers have the same quality players on defense that they did last year, including Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto, but those four are a combined minus-7 this season. In the 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh, Tortorella pulled goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and explained after the game he wasn't going to keep the goalie in there with what was going on in front of him.
The struggles of the offense certainly don't help the defense, but the Rangers have been allowing too many goals to slide through so far into the season. Not too much blame can be placed on Lundqvist as he already has a pair of 30-save games and has seemingly been under siege each night.