New York Rangers: 5 Keys To Beating New Jersey Devils
New York Rangers' 5 Keys To Victory Over New Jersey Devils
After a long West coast trip in which New York Rangers struggled in every part of the game, the Blueshirts returned East with a big win Wednesday night over their Division rivals, Washington Capitals. Now New York will try to get a winning streak going and their next challenge is a familiar foe, New Jersey Devils.
The Rangers take on the Devils Saturday night in Newark for the first matchup of the season between the bitter rivals. The Devils are the only team in the NHL this season without a win and the Rangers will try and get by without Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan. Despite the tumultuous early going for both teams, this is still one of the best rivalries in the league and all of sports. The players will lay it all out on the line as the two teams battle for bragging rights.
There were signs of improvement for the Rangers in their win against the Capitals. They dominated play for most of the game and were getting pucks on net from all over the ice. This allowed them to create more scoring opportunities, but more important was their ability to limit opposing team’s scoring chances. Although the offense may not be healthy for New York, the Defense certainly is and they’re coming off their best performance of the season.
Winning in New Jersey isn’t easy for any team. The Rangers have their work cut out for them as they look to keep the Devils winless. Here are five things they must do in order to win their second game in a row.
Martin Burns covers New York Rangers hockey for Rant Sports. Follow him on twitter (@martin_burns) for more thoughts and news on the Blueshirts as well as the rest of the NHL!
5. Work The Puck In Deep
The Rangers were successful in controlling puck possession and getting scoring chances because of how well they were forechecking and getting the puck deep Wednesday night. Although they will be without Callahan, who is maybe their best player on the forecheck, they can still create havoc by getting pucks deep and winning puck battles. Look for Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett to come out flying along the boards in the offensive end.
4. Defensive Coverage
The lack of communication and poor coverage on defense led to the Rangers allowing 20 goals in 3 straight games on part of their West coast trip. Their execution in both of those areas was tremendous against the Capitals and may be a sign of things to come. If the Rangers can stay true to their assignments in the defensive end and not let Devils get free in front of the net they should be able to frustrate New Jersey’s forwards.
3. Shot Blocking
Although the last thing Rangers fans want to see is someone get injured from another blocked shot after what happened to Callahan, it is still important the team gives up their bodies for the cause of stopping shots. When you block shots you make life easier for your goaltender. When your goaltender’s life is easier, your team increases its chances of winning. The Rangers did a great job blocking shots Wednesday night and will need to continue to do so Saturday vs. the Devils.
2. Power Play
Last year’s plague has been a bright spot so far this season for New York thanks in large part to a rejuvenated Brad Richards. Even though they’re not converting on all their opportunities, the power play has purpose and has created scoring chances that have led to the Rangers gaining momentum in games. With key offensive players out, the Rangers need to convert on any power play chance they get vs. the Devils to get some goals. If they can score on the power play then they can focus on defense when they’re at even strength.
1. Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist is the backbone of the Rangers. He can win them a game on any given night and this may be one of those games Hank needs to pitch a shutout. Lundqvist got his first shutout of the season vs. the Capitals and seems to be feeling more comfortable in net. His aggressiveness was on display Wednesday night, showing that he is regaining confidence. If The King can be the King it would be a welcome sight for New York fans on Saturday night.