Gut Check Time for the Blueshirts

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

For the New York Rangers, the regular season was a breeze.

The Blueshirts won the Metropolitan Division, the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team in the regular season, and established franchise records in wins (55) and points (114). Thanks to those accomplishments, they were gifted an easy first round opponent in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Washington Capitals, who they promptly swept.

Since the first round, however, things have not been as easy for the team on Broadway. The Carolina Hurricanes took them to six games as they almost managed to climb out of a 3-0 series hole and put a real scare into the Rangers.

Things are more than real now for the Rangers as they find themselves down 3-2 to the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Finals. One more loss and their dream of winning hockey’s Holy Grail for the first time in 30 years goes down the drain.

While the Rangers faced some challenges during the season, this is the first real adversity this hockey club has faced all season. The team was resilient during the regular season.

If the Blueshirts want to tie up the series to force a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, they must bounce back on Saturday night in Sunrise, Florida at the Amerant Bank Arena. It is due or die time.

This team can bounce back by getting offense from their top players. This means that Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Artemi Panarin need to step up their collective offensive games.

In their series with the Panthers, the trio mentioned above has been virtually non-existent. Zibanejad has two assists, Kreider has one goal and one assist, and Panarin has three assists.

That is not enough offense, and the trio’s lack of it has hurt their team in this series. In Game 6, they must all figure out a way to generate offense and cash in when they have the opportunity to do so.

The Rangers also need to get their power play going. Despite many opportunities to impact the game, the team has one goal with the man advantage in this series.

Over at DailyFaceoff.com, writer and podcast host, Jonny Lazarus, suggested that Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette should consider moving Alexis Lafreniere to the team’s top power play unit. Lafreniere is tied for first on the team with eight goals in the playoffs, all of which have come at even strength.

While someone extremely skilled will have to be moved down or off the power play, moving Lafreniere onto the top unit could not hurt. Winning is the only thing that matters, and Lafreniere is a player who has played a big part in that all year for the Blueshirts.

Lastly, it is time for the Rangers to start helping out their All-Star goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin has been magnificent in these playoffs and has been hung out to dry way too often in his club’s series with the Panthers.

The Rangers are still in this series, folks. The time has come for them to show it to not only stay alive to force a Game 7, but also show why they were the best team in the league this year and why they deserve to play for the Cup beginning next Saturday, June 8.

In this week's episode we talk about Schnieder, Lindgren's future with NYR, and with Drury seemingly done with off seaon moves the outlook of this team.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Running it Back
  2. Guest Will Wright
  3. There's more to come……….Right ?
  4. Guest Colin Stephenson
  5. Guest HockeyStatMiner

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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