Changes Alain Vigneault Should Make to Give New York Rangers Edge in Game 2
Most critics, fans and journalists would agree that the New York Rangers played pretty well for the most part in Game 1, but a terrible third period and a gaffe in overtime gave the Los Angeles Kings a 1-0 series lead.
Sometimes things like this happen, and the test of a great team is how it responds in the next game. The Rangers made correctable mistakes in Game 1, and bench boss Alain Vigneault can make certain tweaks, such as reinserting defenseman John Moore, that will give the Rangers an edge.
Game 2 will get underway on Saturday, June 7 at 7:00 p. m. ET, so here are the moves that Vigneault and the Rangers should make.
Take Brad Richards off the Top Power-Play Unit
New York's power-play unit was unsuccessful in Game 1 against the Kings, and it was primarily because the unit was unwilling to take shots. Players like Brad Richards and Derek Stepan kept looking for the perfect pass, and as a result the Kings were able to quickly disrupt any attempts to force a jam play down low.
Richards has been the Rangers' top power-play quarterback since signing with the team in 2011, and at this point it would make sense to remove him from the point on the top power-play unit. It would make more sense to have someone who can shoot the puck in that role, because that is what the Rangers need right now.
Candidates for this role include Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, because usually the point man works his way toward the circles and into a prime-shooting hole. This strategy could help generate more shots and, as a result, more rebound attempts against Jonathan Quick.
Insert John Moore for Raphael Diaz
John Moore's suspension is over, and putting him in for Raphael Diaz in Game 2 is a must. Diaz only played 10 minutes, 15 seconds in Game 1, and that indicates that Vigneault did not have the most confidence in the third-pair defender.
Moore has been the Blueshirts' No. 5 defender for most of the season, and getting him back into the lineup will help the team's overall speed and add another heavy left-handed shot to the lineup.
His return to the lineup will also allow Vigneault to better distribute ice time, and that should result in Ryan McDonagh not having to play more than 30 minutes in Game 2.
Double-Shift Chris Kreider over Rick Nash in Derek Dorsett's Spot
Derek Dorsett only played eight minutes, 35 seconds in Game 1, and that was because Vigneault opted to double-shift Rick Nash in his place. The Blueshirts coach is trying to get Nash going, but instead he should double-shift Chris Kreider in his place. Kreider's speed makes him a threat, and in that role he will likely be matching up against the Kings' third defense pairing.
This could lead to offensive opportunities for the Rangers, because Dominic Moore has more than proved himself as a center. He is known for his defensive qualities, but he did an admirable job of replacing Stepan while he was having surgery on his jaw.
Ultimately, the Rangers will do what they think is best to generate offense, but double-shifting Kreider over Nash would benefit them in Game 2.
Crash the Net, Similar to the Montreal Series
The Rangers were effective when it came to crease crashing in the Eastern Conference Final. Someone was always going hard to the net, and there was usually someone waiting for a rebound out in front. Jonathan Quick is a goaltender who will stop most, if not all, of the pucks he makes eye contact with.
Once you get in his kitchen and make him start moving, holes open up that can be exploited. Time and time again he was almost beaten with a wraparound, and if there was a guy crashing the net, there would have been an option to exploit the weak side.
The Rangers did this effectively against the Canadiens, and they need to do it against the Kings.