Rangers Have Lots to Work On Despite Leading Series Over the Panthers

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Since Game 4 of the second round against the Carolina Hurricanes, the New York Rangers have not been all that great.

They have not played well defensively, they have not been careful with the puck, some of their big guns have gone quiet, and they have not looked like the team that was the best in the league during the regular season.

Nevertheless, the Blueshirts find themselves with a 2-1 series lead over the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Both wins came in overtime on goals by Barclay Goodrow in Game 2 and Alex Wennberg in Game 3.

The truth is that the Rangers are lucky to be leading this series. The team was outplayed in Games 1 and 3 and has not looked good in this series.

As such, if this team wants to get back to playing the right way and insert themselves in this series, they need to make a few corrections. If they are not able to fix things, the Panthers can easily get back into this series and maybe even win it.

Let’s start with players that need to be much better for the Blueshirts. The first player that needs to be a lot better is defenseman K’Andre Miller.

Miller has looked terrible against the Panthers. He has coughed up the puck a lot, has gotten himself out of position on several plays, and has looked lost in his own zone.

For Miller to be successful, he must simplify his game. That means being careful with the puck, not being too aggressive, and staying focused on defending.

Miller’s defense partner, Jacob Trouba, also needs to be a lot better. He took three penalties in Game 3 (now has 20 penalty minutes in the playoffs), has also been careless with the puck, and like Miller, has gotten caught out of position.

Mika Zibanejad is another player that needs to be better. He is snakebitten as he has yet to record a point in this series and has not looked like himself.

After getting off to a hot start in this postseason, Zibanejad has gone quiet at the wrong time. That needs to change in a hurry if the Rangers want to advance, so Zibanejad needs to do a better job of getting himself into prime scoring areas and he needs to not be afraid to shoot the puck.

Speaking of being quiet in their series against the Panthers, Rangers forward Chris Kreider has all of a sudden lost his magic scoring touch. He needs to go back to making himself big in front of the opposing goaltender and putting the puck in the net because someone on the team’s first line needs to score since guys like Zibanejad, Filip Chytil, and Jack Roslovic have not contributed much in terms of scoring goals.

One other play that looks off is defenseman Adam Fox. He does not look like himself as he has made a few careless plays with the puck and has not looked good quarterbacking the team’s power play.

One has to wonder if he is playing through an injury. Whatever is going on, the Rangers need to help Fox figure out a way to be a contributor if they want to get to the next round.

Let’s look at specific areas that the Rangers need to improve upon to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. The team’s power play is one area that is concerning.

After clicking at an incredibly high rate in the first two rounds, the Rangers can no longer find the back of the net with the man advantage. The Rangers are 0-8 in this series on the power play, and it is easy to see why, as they are not getting enough pucks to the net, they are not putting the puck in the right areas to score goals, and they are passing up shots.

That is something that needs to change in a hurry. The Panthers play very well at even strength and if the Rangers want to truly get an upper hand in this series, they need to start scoring on the power play.

The Rangers also need to be much better defensively. As mentioned above, they are giving up the puck, not being smart with the puck in their own end, and making life very difficult for their All-Star goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who bailed his team out in Game 3 by stopping 33 of 37 shots, many of the spectacular variety.

While it is great for the Rangers that they are up two games to one heading into Game 4 on Tuesday night, they cannot ignore that they have to correct several things to get their game functioning at a high level again. If they can do that, they have an opportunity to put a stranglehold on the Panthers and get one game closer to advancing to the Cup Final for the second time in 10 years.

In this episode, we discuss the variety of ways this offseason can go, Laf vs Stutzle and Q/A Mailbag.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. Many Directions, One Goal
  2. A Heartbreaking End, Offseason Begins
  3. Game 5 Recap : Guest Joe Fortunato
  4. Game 4 Recap : Breakout Breakdown
  5. It's Not Worth Winning if You Can't Win-berg

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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