After two straight losses the New York Rangers look to get back on track tonight against the Nashville Predators. In their first meeting of the season the Rangers shutout the Predators 2-0 on the shoulders of Cam Talbot‘s first NHL shutout. Tonight the Rangers are starting Henrik Lundqvist in goal, but they must find a way to elevate their compete level.
There has been a lot of turmoil surrounding the Rangers over the last couple of days. They have played three straight lackluster games and have gone 1-1-1 over that stretch. The culmination of those games was Sunday night against the Washington Capitals where the Rangers just gave an absolute pathetic effort.
The word compete level has been thrown around a lot this year. With John Tortorella the word was juice, but with Alain Vigneault it is compete level. Compete level is the ability to fight back. It is how hard of a team you are to play against. Over this last three-game stretch the Rangers have been one of the easiest teams to play against, and that has to change tonight against the Predators.
It starts with the captain Ryan Callahan. I don’t know if he is still injured, but he has not looked like himself lately. I expect him to absolutely lay the body out on the ice tonight. Next up is Brad Richards and Rick Nash. Nash was trying to stir it up with Alex Ovechkin the other night, but the Rangers need Nash to create offense, not get into scuffles. Nash needs to use his incredible hands to create some big time scoring chances tonight. Richards has to be smarter with the puck on his stick. On the power play against the Capitals he made some horrendous passes. Carl Hagelin is also a player that needs to bring his game to another level. When he first came back this season Hagelin was flying around and creating offense. After having eight points in his first seven games, Hagelin only has three in his last 14. He needs to use his incredible speed to create some scoring opportunities.
On the defensive end John Moore and Michael Del Zotto have to play better. Both have to be smarter with the puck, and they can’t get caught puck watching in their own zone. With Marc Staal out of the lineup these two are going to get more minutes and must elevate in play.
The Rangers are in need of a game where they bring nothing but heart and passion for 60 minutes. The compete level has to be raised to a different level tonight.