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"Talking New York Rangers Hockey, since 2007"
New York, NY • United States • 23 Years Old • Male

Rangers Make A Statement

Posted 9:16 PM ET | Comments 0
The Rangers were challenged to beat two of the most talented clubs in the Eastern Conference. To do so, they needed to overcome a two game slump, amid claims that their prior seven game winning streak was more a result of weak opponents than good play. They rose to the occasion, outscoring Washington and Philadelphia by a total of 8-3, while recording 30+ shots in back to back games for the first time this season. The Capitals are in shambles and the Flyers are without several key plays. Nonetheless, the victories were impressive, if for no other reason than the quality of play displayed during the 25 hour period, with all the excuses in the world not to dominate for all six periods.

Last week, in this space we urged the Rangers to get pucks to the net. After managing just 37 total shots in the previous two games, the club recorded 33 shots against Michal Neuvirth and 32 against Sergei Bobrovsky. It has been a trend throughout the year; games, and even individual periods, where the Rangers get a lot of shots on goal result in their best success. The Rangers scored three of their last eight goals off of rebounds; these opportunities would never have occurred if the initial shot was not taken. Shots beget shots, and shots are the only way to score. The Rangers are 6-0-0 when outshooting the opponent, compared with 6-5-3 when being outshot. If they can continue to generate shooting-based offense, and not just an endless offensive zone cycle, they should get similar results.

It is tough to rely on one player for the majority of the scoring; the Rangers struggled through that during parts of the Jagr era. And while relying on two lines to score goals it not the end of the world, it can make for some very inconsistent hockey. After all, it is much more likely for six forwards to go cold than nine or ten. That is why it was so heartening to see the bottom six forwards step up with four goals in the two victories. Ruslan Fedotenko and Brian Boyle both got a rare showing on the score-sheet in Washington, while new call-ups Carl Hagelin and John Mitchell both have two points through their first two appearances. This does not guarantee future success, which is very much needed by the club, but it is a good start.

The Rangers like to play a physical style of offense, creating scoring chances off the cycle, forecheck, and crashing the net. But although the personnel called for this style of play in the past, the team now has more skill players who are more successful in different situations. Take the 6 even strength goals scored in the last two games. Gaborik and Richards, both skill players who thrive in space, scored off the rush. The goals were set up beautifully by Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan, respectively, who have shown an ability to add a side of finesse to their physical game. Meanwhile, the other four goals were scored by Fedotenko (twice), Boyle, and Hagelin. They were all scored from right in front of the net, as a direct result of forechecking and crashing the net. Every player is different and in order to achieve success, each Ranger needs to recognize his individual skill set and role in the offense, while still playing within the team game.

Henrik Lundqvist was forced to make some difficult saves in the past few games, but the Rangers have no need to apologize for that. He is a world-class goaltender. He is there to clean up after the Rangers' mistakes, which can be expected given the young and shallow defense corps. His presence also allows for the forwards to take greater risk, knowing that if they make a mistake it will not necessarily result in a goal against. That said, the Rangers need to take advantage of "The King's" efforts, and make sure to score goals to reward his effort on the back end. If they do that, Lundqvist will be more than happy to stand on his head, night in and night out.

Results and Schedule
Wed Nov 23, 2011 NYR (1) - FLA (2)
Fri Nov 25, 2011 NYR (6) - WSH (3)
Sat Nov 26, 2011 PHI (0) - NYR (2)

Tue Nov 29, 2011 Penguins Rangers 7:30 PM
Thu Dec 1, 2011 Rangers Hurricanes 7:00 PM
Sat Dec 3, 2011 Rangers Lightning 7:00 PM

With a win at the Garden against Pittsburgh, the Rangers would close out the month of November with a 9-2 record. It would be their seventh straight home victory, and their tenth win out of their last 12. And if that is not sweet enough, the Rangers have a chance to hand Sidney Crosby his first regulation loss since returning from his concussion. It would also help the team run down the Penguins for the Atlantic Division lead. Although the Rangers are five points back, they have four games in hand, and technically, a better record than Pittsburgh. This will be their toughest test yet. let's see if they can rise to the occasion.

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