New York Rangers' Least Impressive Players Thus Far in Eastern Conference Final
The New York Rangers squandered a chance to put away the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday and now find themselves needing to win at home in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final in order to avoid what would be a tremendously difficult Game 7 in Montreal.
While Game 5 was a weird one that saw New York eke out an overtime win, there were a number of Rangers players who did not play well.
Beyond that, there have been a few players who have not been that impressive for the team in the series overall.
Which players in particular need to step up their game?
Read on to find out.
Benoit Pouliot is averaging about a penalty per game in these playoffs.
To make matters worse, he isn't even scoring. After notching four points against Pittsburgh in the second round, Pouliot has not registered a point against Montreal.
I wrote in December that Pouliot was one of the Rangers' most disappointing players:
Benoit Pouliot is the best "bad" player I've ever seen.
What does that mean? It's simple. Pouliot is dripping in talent. He just never uses it.
Remember, this is a guy who was drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2005. He dominated junior hockey, scoring 134 points in 122 games.
He has great size and dazzling speed, and he possesses a wicked wrister.
But the results? Just five points in 28 games this season.
He did improve as the season went on, scoring 31 more points and becoming an important secondary scorer.
Against Montreal, however, he has reverted to his old ways, taking dumb penalties and not making an impact.
Pouliot needs to step up his game, and he needs to do so soon.
After notching three points in Game 1 of the series, Mats Zuccarello has failed to register a point in the subsequent four games.
While he hasn't played terribly—and he certainly missed Derick Brassard when the center was out for two games—the Rangers need more from one of their leading scorers.
They cannot rely solely on Marty St. Louis for offense. They need to be more balanced.
That's where Zuccarello comes in. Yes, he's getting chances, but he needs to start putting pucks in the back of the net before it's too late for the Rangers.
Derek Dorsett fills a role and does so well.
However, look at the way that some of the recent Stanley Cup champions have used their fourth-liners. In addition to providing energy, they score timely goals. Think of Marcus Kruger with the Chicago Blackhawks or Daniel Paille with the Boston Bruins.
Dorsett doesn't need to be a superstar, but as the weakest link among Rangers forwards, Dorsett needs to convert some of the chances he creates with his hard work.
He's tenacious on the forecheck, which does lead to chances, but they don't go in.
If Dorsett can squeeze out a bit of offense, it would really help the Rangers.
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