Rangers vs. Penguins Game 4: Keys for New York to Win
The New York Rangers find themselves in a 2-1 hole heading into Game 4, and they need to turn it around if they want to salvage the series. The Rangers have been shut out in two consecutive games, and despite a bevy of lineup changes, the offense has sputtered.
The Blueshirts will have a chance to even the series up on home ice, and here are the keys for a victory in Game 4.
Take High-Quality Shots
The Rangers registered 35 shots on goal in Game 3, but 15 of those shots came from a low-quality area outside of the circles and near the blue line. One of the Blueshirts' problems is their tendency to take shots from the perimeter as opposed to going in the dirty areas of the ice.
The Rangers will generate more goals and chances if they are crashing the net and/or taking shots inside the slot directly in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. If the Rangers roll up their sleeves and make him work, chances are they will fare better in Game 4 than they did in Games 2 and 3.
Be More Decisive on the Power Play
The Rangers' power play sucks. There is no two ways about it. The Blueshirts are zero of their last 33 and three of 41 overall. Despite having a coach that is dedicated to running the power play, the Rangers can't seem to buy a goal while having an extra man.
It is interesting given the fact that the Blueshirts have been excellent during five-on-five play, and there seems to be no end to the drought in sight. The Rangers have looked tentative and slow on the power play, and they can have success if they are more decisive and sure of themselves.
Players need to move their feet, because the Penguins have done a good job sticking away passes throughout the series. The more the Rangers move, the more the Penguins will move and eventually that will result in the Pens' PK unit getting fatigued.
That is when the Rangers can attack, and if they do that in Game 4 they will have a chance to score a power-play goal.
Stop Telegraphing and Forcing Passes
The Rangers were successful offensively during the regular season when they created chances during transition play. After making a stop at one end, a defender or forward would take the puck up the ice and would generate chances by making smart passes.
The Blueshirts have been telegraphing a lot of passes, and it seems like they are trying to force the puck into certain areas on the ice. Instead of forcing the puck, the Rangers need to be stronger on the puck skating into the zone, and they need to make smart passes that can open up the ice.
Stagnant play and lack of mobility have hurt the Rangers the past two games, and if they stop telegraphing their passes they will generate quality chances.
Be Smarter When Entering the Zone
The Rangers have resorted to dumping and chasing the puck over the past two games because of their inability to gain the zone. As a result, the Penguins have changed their game plan and they are beating the Blueshirts to loose pucks and then clearing the zone.
The Rangers usually have one player carry the puck and have a forward at both boards ahead of the puck carrier. This allows the Penguins to shut down outlet options at the blue line. What the Rangers need to do is have a puck carrier and another forward that keeps pace with the puck carrier so they have options to enter the zone.
If the Penguins have to guard two players trying to enter the zone, it opens up more room on the ice and it can lead to cleaner zone entries. Cleaner zone entries lead to more offensive-zone time, and more offensive-zone time will lead to scoring goals.
Defensemen Need to Join the Rush
The Rangers have not received offensive contributions from their defense, and that is something that has hurt the team's offense. Ryan McDonagh has not looked himself, and he was the team's top offensive defender this past season.
Raphael Diaz looked great in Game 3 by putting six shots on goal, and that is something that needs to continue. If defenders continue to join the rush and create chances, forwards will be able to crash the net for rebounds and they will be able to pester Marc-Andre Fleury with more pressure.
Kris Letang has done a good job thus far for the Penguins, and now it is time for someone on the Blueshirts to emerge.