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Luck, inability, or defended well: Why aren’t the Rangers scoring goals?

Bobby Bevilacqua

derick brassard goal celebration 5-6

The Rangers haven’t been able to find the back of the net consistently in the playoffs. What’s the reason for their anemic offense? Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After another one goal performance last night, the Rangers anemic offense continues to put the team in tough situations, like the 3-1 series deficit they find themselves in against the Capitals in the second round.

The Rangers clearly aren’t getting outplayed. They’ve been in every game, they’ve had good looks for the most part, and they’ve outshot and outchanced the Capitals in practically every game. They’re averaging nearly 31 shots per game as well through the nine playoff games they have played.

But for some reason, the team that finished third in the NHL in goals per game in the regular season (3.02 G/GP) is now tied for last in the playoffs, averaging just 1.78 goals per game. Against Braden Holtby and the Capitals, they’ve scored just five goals, with two coming from Derick Brassard.

So how on earth is it possible that one of the best offensive teams in the regular season has seen their offense suddenly wither in the playoffs?

Many people have attributed it to the Rangers not getting any puck luck or favorable bounces, which is certainly an argument that could be made. The Rangers have not been able to get bounces past Dholtby, or pucks that slide to the open man. Goals like the one scored by Jay Beagle in Game 3, the double skate deflection, have not happened for the Rangers.

JT Miller shot 5-2

The Rangers haven’t been able to get many bounces in the playoffs, leading to a plummeting shooting percentage and a goals per game average of 1.78. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

This is evident in the Rangers shooting percentage as well. As a team, the Rangers are shooting just 5.2% at even strength. Only Montreal (5.1%) and Ottawa (4.6%) were/are shooting lower as a team. The Rangers are playing well too, averaging 51.5% Corsi for (possession, over 50% is good) as a team throughout the playoffs.

Individuals like Rick Nash, who has played a solid two way game throughout this year’s playoffs, haven’t getting bounces. Nash is extremely snakebitten it seems like, shooting just 2.9% in the playoffs on 35 shots, which is 10.9% less than in the regular season.

In fact, almost everyone on the team has dipped in shooting percentage, except for Jesper Fast (16.70% on 6 shots) and Derick Brassard (25% on 20 shots). Nobody has been able to put pucks in the back of the net as consistently as they had during the regular season. Pucks have been tipped wide, slipped off of sticks, and hit the outside of posts.

But puck luck and bounces can’t be blamed for every time the Rangers miss on a chance. Eventually, the Rangers have to start taking better shots, get to the front of the net, and create chances of their own.

It’s also about time that people start crediting the Washington Capitals for their tremendous defensive effort throughout the series. The Capitals remind me of the Rangers back in 2012, defense first, an elite goalie in net, blocking shots, and a blue collar style of play under Barry Trotz.

Throughout the series, the Rangers have not been able to penetrate the middle of the ice, with the Capitals forcing them to the perimeter for easy saves. Holtby hasn’t been screened often, has not had to stop many deflections, and has not faced many second chance opportunities. All of this is due to the word done by the big Capitals defensemen in the crease.

On top of that, the team has not adjusted to the Capitals defensive gameplay. They still insist on attempting long stretch passes, sticking with their speed game plan and wide open strategy. Meanwhile, the Caps have effectively clogged the shooting and passing lanes, disrupting the Rangers style of play.

In order to start scoring more, the Rangers need to do whatever it takes to get to the front of the net. Kreider, Nash, Glass, Sheppard, Hayes. These are all massive human beings that need to force their way to the front of the net, battle with their defender, distract Holtby and look for deflections and rebound opportunities.

james sheppard 4-30

Guys like James Sheppard, Chris Kreider, and others need to get traffic in front of the net to disturb Holtby and throw off his rhythm. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

 

On top of that, they need to stop trying to be too “cute.” Way too many times there have been instances where the Rangers have lost the puck, or missed a shot opportunity because they were trying to make a stickhandling move or fancy pass instead of getting a shot. Just shoot the puck, get Holtby moving laterally to tire out his legs, and get traffic near the net.

The Rangers have the talent. Guys like Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Keith Yandle, and others have the ability to consistently put the puck in the back of the net. It’s time for them to step up.

I’ve defended Rick Nash, and still do. He’s been a tremendous two way player in the playoffs, has been a factor on many of the goals, and is tied for the team lead in points in the postseason with six (1-5-6). But with the Rangers struggling to score goals, someone needs to step up and start scoring, and Nash is one of those people.

rick nash profile 2-19

As much as I love Rick Nash’s strong play in these playoffs, the Rangers need someone to become their go-to-guy. And who better than Rick Nash to assume the role. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

I can applaud him as much as I want for being a great overall player in the playoffs, and rightfully so. But it’s not fair to blame puck luck when it comes to Nash. This isn’t a small sample size where he is shooting 3.5% in the playoffs. It’s 50 games with a 3.5 shooting percentage and just six goals. Nash has been the go to guy all season, and he needs to assume that role in Game 5. He isn’t the only player that needs to step up, but one of the main guys.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @The_RangerZone and leave any comments or questions you have below!

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Posted on May 7, 2015, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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