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Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Donnie Pucks: Rangers special teams not ready

By Don La Greca

If the Rangers are going to survive these injuries, the special teams have got to be better.

I know it's early, but 27th on the kill and 20th on the PP is not going to get it done.

The Rangers, since the lockout, have been able to stay in games and win with a solid penalty kill. This season, without Marion Gaborik, Chris Drury and Vinny Prospal, goals will be at a premium. So when the Rangers are trying to hang on and win a game at home against a fast and young Avalanche team, you can't lose a game 3-1 with two of the Avalanche's goals coming on the man advantage.

Don't blame the penalties -- the Avs had just two power plays and the Blueshirts were 0-5 on the power play. They had no chance.

This is a special teams league. With the more wide-open style the league wants, you have to be good 5-on-4. Last season seven of the top 10 power plays made the playoffs and eight of the top 10 penalty kills made the postseason.

How do you do it? Win draws and block shots. Make smart clears off the glass and not on the ice in the lanes that could be picked off. You just can't rely on Henrik Lundqvist to make save after save.

Marc Staal said it best after Monday's game about the kill,  "It's not getting the job done right now." Right now is the key phrase. With all the injuries, the time is now.