New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

After three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, it’s become evident that the New York Rangers need to change the pace of play.

By Robby Sabo

12 goals in two-games. If there’s any more motivation Henrik Lundqvist needs, then he’s not the right man for the job.

It seems like a decade has past since the New York Rangers 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals over the Tampa Bay Lightning. A decade, because of how lackluster the Rangers defensive structure has been the past two-games against the team who led the NHL in goals this season.

It’s what good teams do. They use their strength to force doubt and disbelief.

For this Rangers team, disbelief is not an option. Instead, the key needs to be adjustment.

The one championship-like characteristic this Rangers team has exhibited over the last four seasons has been their resiliency. And at no time, has their resiliency will be put more to the test than right now.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals brought a different element to the table. Those series forced the Rangers to adjust in a way they didn’t want to. Alain Vigneault was forced to have his team play more of a defensive, physical game.1rangers2

That’s why this series against Tampa Bay is so interesting. Their speed, transition game and flat-out skill is something that looks to be overwhelming a solid Rangers defense. What’s worrisome is the fact that Vigneault might be stubborn enough to think his team, his style can, in fact, play with these guys.

While many argue they can, it’s certainly not the smart move, especially with Mats Zuccarello still sitting out.

At this point, there are two, very slow anchors on the team – in Marty St. Louis and Dan Boyle – who cannot keep up with this type of game. Furthermore, Dan Girardi has reverted back to the troublesome player we saw during the Stanley Cup Finals a season ago against the Los Angeles Kings.

Despite Vigneault wanting to play the transitional speedy game, it’s not wise right now. They’ll need to stick to defensive principles, strong board play, and a little physical violence to compete.

Taking away the middle of the ice against the Triplets line, will be the first priority in Game 4.

The puck drops at 8 pm ET from Tampa.

Click Here for Full Game Preview.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]