Rangers’ Play without the Puck Big Reason for Turnaround

11/24/13 in NHL   |   patrickhoffman3530   |   122 respect

Nov 23, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Rangers goalies Henrik Lunqvist (30) and Cam Talbot (33) skate off the ice together after a win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. The Rangers beat the Predators 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY SportsWhen the New York Rangers struggled in the beginning of the season, it was not just because of their lack of offense or even struggles between the pipes.

The main point of concern for the Blueshirts during their early season swoon was their play on the defensive side of the puck. The team struggled with turnovers, being in the right place to break up plays, being out of position and more importantly, were extremely porous and left their netminders out to dry.

Fast forward a month later and the team’s defensive play has turned the page and has once again become one of the league’s defensive teams. There are several reasons why the Rangers have improved their play without the puck and as a result, are winning more hockey games.

For starters, the team’s forwards have been able to get back into the defensive zone to help retrieve the puck. Earlier in the season, the Rangers’ forwards were getting caught in the offensive zone trying to chase the puck and when the opponent was able to get the puck from them, it often left the forwards caught deep in the offensive zone.

Another reason for the team’s turnaround on the defensive side of the game has been their positioning in their own zone. Back in October, the Rangers were often caught chasing the puck in their own zone which resulted in poor positioning and enable their opponent to generate high-quality scoring chances.

A month later, this has changed in a big way for the Blueshirts. The team’s play in their own zone has forced their opponents to take shots from the outside and not be able to get too many second and third chances against their goaltender (s).

The team’s turnovers are also down. In the beginning of the season, the team was trying to be too fine with the puck and it often ended up being on the opponent’s stick and leading to a quality scoring chance going the other way.

Nowadays, the Rangers are being a lot more careful with the puck. They are doing a better job of protecting the disc, getting rid of it when they need to and not doing too much with it when being pressured by the opponent.

Lastly, the Blueshirts are playing with a lot more confidence when it comes to their play without the puck. Back in October, the teams seemed hesitant with the puck, did not look like they knew where to be in their own zone and were often caught out of position to make defensive plays.

That has all changed as the team heads into the last week of November. The Rangers now look like they know what they are doing without the puck and are making the plays they used to make over the last few seasons when they were one of the best defensive teams in the league.

It is the team’s play without the puck that has them winning games and in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference playoff race, which is all that matters.
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