Rangers Need More Finish In Their Game
Teams start tightening up on defense, goaltenders start getting hot and more and more players sacrifice their body to block passes and shots in order to keep the puck out of the net. It becomes a war zone out of the ice and offenses must work hard to put the puck in the net.
Going into tomorrow night's tilt with the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers are having their fair share of problems putting the puck in the net. A good example of this was in yesterday's 1-0 shutout loss to the San Jose Sharks as the Blueshirts were shutout 1-0 despite having 41 shots on goal.
It is clear that the players are gripping their sticks a bit tighter. Rangers' newcomer Martin St. Louis is the perfect example of one of these players.
In seven games since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 38-year-old forward has no goals and two assists. While he certainly has not been bad, it's unusual for St. Louis to not have scored a goal by now.
St. Louis seems to get a least three or four good scoring opportunities a game, with most of them coming from the slot or even on short breakaways. St. Louis has had his chances to score, but has not been able to cash in, which is something that needs to change in a hurry.
Rangers' leading goal scorer Rick Nash has also gone quiet over the past few weeks. Since returning from the Olympic break, Nash has just two goals in his last 10 games.
If the Rangers want to guarantee themselves a playoff spot, Nash needs to be another guy on this hockey club that has to start scoring goals. Going into the break, he was the team's hottest players in terms of putting the puck in net so he needs to get back to being that player.
Another player that needs to start scoring goals is Derek Stepan. Stepan leads the team in assists with 34 but when it comes to scoring goals, he has been extremely inconsistent.
In 69 games, Stepan has just 12 goals, three of which came back in a hat trick in early November against the Carolina Hurricanes. While he is actually close to what he averages per season, the Rangers will need him to help in the goal scoring department if they want to get into the postseason come April.
With the Philadelphia Flyers having played some of their best hockey this season in a weekend sweep over the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets fighting for every point they can get, the Rangers must find a way to start burying more of the chances in order to qualify for hockey's second season.