5 Problems New York Rangers Must Fix
New York Rangers Need To Fix These 5 Problems
There has been a lot of worrying in New York due to the rocky start the New York Rangers have gotten off to in the 2013-14 NHL season. Expecting their team to come out flying all over the ice and scoring a surplus of goals under the tutelage of new head coach Alain Vigneault, fans have been disappointed in the Rangers' inability to perform.
It would be wrong to expect the Rangers to fully grasp Vigneault’s system right away. The system implanted by the head coach is so different from the one that the Rangers have been used to over the last three seasons. Patience is needed while the Rangers work out all the kinks, but it doesn’t mean there won't be criticism from the fans. Expectations for a Stanley Cup have never been higher from this fan base so it is to be expected that there will be grunts and groans from the Blueshirt faithful.
Instead of just stating that there are issues which need to be fixed, such as Vigneault did in his postgame press conference following the loss to Phoenix Coyotes, we need to take a look at what the problems are specifically that are plaguing this team. There are plenty of things to fix, but a specific few stand out above the rest.
Let's take a look at some of the glaring issues the Rangers have faced so far this season.
Martin Burns covers the New York Rangers for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter for more thoughts and analysis on the Blueshirts as well as the rest of the NHL!
5. Crowding The Net
Since his arrival in New York, Vigneault has put a big emphasis on putting the puck on net and crashing looking for rebounds. He also wants players in front of the net screening the goalie at all times. So far the Rangers have struggled to do this and it has resulted in hardly any opportunities in front of the net. This is a fundamental part of hockey and can lead to a lot of goals.
It seems like the Rangers have struggled connecting on crisp passes for quite some time now. In the game against Phoenix, the Rangers attempted too many cross ice passes that were easily intercepted by Coyotes' defenders. New York needs to start moving the puck with purpose, making quick decisions and start putting the puck on the tape of the skater on the receiving end in order to give them a better chance at maintaining the puck.
3. Creating Space For Scorers
Rick Nash never really had an opportunity to impact the game against the Coyotes because he rarely found himself with the puck in space. The Rangers need to spread out on the rush and move the puck quickly to catch defenders out of position so that playmakers such as Nash have an opportunity to be one-on-one and make a play towards the net with the puck.
The Rangers cannot take shifts off. There needs to be a physical presence on the ice at all times in order to be successful in this era of the NHL. An aggressive forecheck to sustain pressure is key to adding a physical element, as well as tough blue line defending which will force your opponent into thinking twice about his decisions while in the offensive zone. This area of the game should get better when Ryan Callahan makes his return to the lineup tomorrow night against the Los Angeles Kings.
1. Defensive Assignments
Too often through the preseason and against the Coyotes we saw opposing players find themselves wide open in front of the net. This is due to poor execution on defensive assignments. Under John Tortorella the Rangers played a zone style of defense, and under Vigneault they are learning how to play a man-to-man style. This will improve, but it needs to improve quickly or else Henrik Lundqvist is going to have to bail his defenders out often in games.