The New York Rangers will look to achieve some consistency as they take on Montreal in their own house of horrors, the Bell Centre.
New York Rangers (40-24-8)
Montreal Canadiens (34-35-6)
NHL, Today, 7:00 PM on NHLN-US, MSG 2 Full Preview
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
By Chris Wengert
To say that the New York Rangers have been brutally inconsistent this season would not only be stating the obvious, but it would also be a gigantic understatement.
On one end of the spectrum you have that fantastically bad performance against the San Jose Sharks, a game in which the Rangers hit the snooze button one two many times before the game.
And then on the other end of the spectrum you will see the Rangers look like a playoff-ready team, as they did against the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins.
So which Rangers team will show up in Montreal tonight?
The team that protects the puck with safe and efficient breakout passes? The team that is willing to knock guys on their rear ends when they hack at Antti Raanta?
Or will it be that other team, and by now I’m sure you all know which team I’m referring to.
The team that turns the puck over, is unwilling to shoot, and will not move bodies out of the crease.
Consistency or a lack thereof could be what ultimately dooms the Rangers, or has them popping corks in two months.
Tonight the Rangers will face a severely banged up Montreal Canadiens team, and if you were ever lamenting injuries on the Rangers roster, just take a look at this:
This list makes the lone Dylan McIlrath injury look like a first world problem for sure.
McIlrath says right knee feeling good, confident he’ll be ready in 5-6 day window. Extra time a precaution after previous left knee injury.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) March 26, 2016
In other news, captain Ryan McDonagh won the John Halligan Good Guy Award. The award winner is decided by the New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and goes to a player that consistently cooperates with the media.
I wonder if former head coach John Tortorella was a past recipient?
Rangers’ Keys To Victory
Not to sound like a broken record, but consistency is really what the Rangers need down the stretch.
Keith Yandle needs to continue his Brian Leetch ways, Antti Raanta needs to bail the Rangers out from time-to-time, the forwards need to back check, and the power play needs to continue to be dangerous.
The Rangers cannot afford to go into another slump, no matter how big or small it may be, as I’m still not convinced that this team has the weapons to simply “turn it on” in the playoffs.
Relentless and Physical Forecheck
Against this banged up team a strong, two man Rangers’ forecheck could easily dismantle any confidence the Canadiens may have left in their proverbial tank.
And I’m not just talking about a nice cycling forecheck, I’m talking about a fast and physical forecheck.
This is the type of play that could produce early scoring chances and take Montreal out of the game in the first period.
The Rangers probably could have added another sponsor to their broadcast with the number of late-game letdowns they have allowed this season.
The Rangers need to avoid any late mistakes that may give Montreal momentum, and while this may be a tall order for New York, it is something they cannot continue to allow moving forward.
Finishing the game strong can start with something very simple, like clearing the puck out of the zone when the opportunity presents itself.
Seriously, how many times have you witnessed the Rangers miss a clearing attempt, only to have their opponent score as a result?
— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) March 26, 2016