Pessimistic people will look at Game 1 for the New York Rangers and say they played a horrible game and were lucky to even get to an overtime period. Optimistic people will say that the Rangers played their worst game and still were only beat in overtime by the Boston Bruins.
Regardless of which side you fall, the bottom line is the Rangers played a bad game on Thursday night. They had very little sustained offensive pressure and were thoroughly dominated in the extra period. The Rangers have to improve in many areas.
First of all, they must find a way to get their forecheck going, especially the line of Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin. This line plays its best hockey when they are dumping the puck in and cycling the puck well. In reality the whole Rangers team plays its best when they are cycling the puck below the goal line.
Next, Rick Nash has to score a goal. While he played significantly better in Game 1, he still did not register a goal. It doesn’t matter how the puck goes into the net or when; Nash needs a goal. You can tell doubt is starting to creep into his mind and he is hesitating to shoot. It is a bad sign when struggles start to affect a player’s psyche. I expect Nash to be flying in Game 2.
Finally the power play has to do something. It has to at least generate shots on net. Too many times this season the Rangers power-play line steps onto the ice and it just kills the momentum of the team. Whoever is playing the point has to move the puck quickly to the net and the Rangers have to get bodies in front of Tukka Rask. They had no traffic in front of him in Game 1.
The Rangers need to make some changes if they want to win Game 2.