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New York Rangers: Everyone, Please Exit The Rollercoaster

The inconsistent effort, the erratic play; this New York Rangers’ playoff roller coaster ride needs to end tonight in Game 4.

By Chris Wengert

New York Rangers fans have been riding the playoff roller coaster for a few years now.

But rather than begging to go for another spin, Blueshirt fans scream, kick, and beg for the ride to end.

Inconsistent play, questionable efforts, and suspect coaching decisions often have Rangers fans ready to throw in the towel on a team that makes Madison Square Garden faithful’s lives anything but easy.

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But we never do throw in the towel, because that’s simply not the New York way.

Fans will return like lemmings, ready to ride the roller coaster once again.

Well fans, here we are.

The Rangers haven’t won a home playoff game since Game 1 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. It’s time to break that awful streak.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a very good team that consists of one of the, if not the best hockey player in the world.

Having said that, this Penguin team is still very beatable.

If the Rangers can substitute their third period from Game 3 with the strategy and effort they put forth in the first two then they will be fine tonight.

But you have to wonder how head coach Alain Vigneault is going to approach this game personnel-wise, especially with the defense.

Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi are the biggest concerns, and while it’s looking like Girardi is probably out for tonight’s game, McDonagh’s status remains a concern.

McDonagh looked slow and anable to shoot the puck with any sort of authority throughout Game 3. There is no doubt that his hand was hurting him, as he grimaced in pain on more than a few occasions.

I would rather see Brady Skjei play in place of McDonagh, who may only be at 60-70% health.

Also, an interesting little tidbit…

Rangers’ Keys To Victory

Alain Vigneault Needs To Adjust

The lack of adjustments on behalf of the coaching staff in the third period of Game 3 were puzzling.

Pittsburgh clogged the neutral zone which severely disrupted the Rangers’ transition game. When New York did attempt to dump and chase a lack of hustle and pressure made the strategy ineffective.

And yet, nothing changed.

Does AV believe that his Rangers team is incapable of making those adjustments, or rather is he stubbornly “sticking with the system”?

Either way, adjustments need to be made as the game progresses.

Lose The Fancy Pants

For some reason, most of the Rangers players seemed like they were trying to make the ESPN Top 10 highlight rather than score goals.

Enough of the cutesy stuff gentlemen.

Dominic Moore had multiple scoring chances with open ice, yet passed the puck almost every time. Sharing is not caring in the playoffs.

Shoot the puck hard and often, especially against a green goaltender in Matt Murray, whose confidence can be rattled if pressured.

Hustle On The Forecheck

There were many instances in the third period in which the Rangers were incapable of gaining possession simply because they were not working hard enough in the offensive zone.

The Rangers should send two players into the zone, and their feet shouldn’t stop moving until they have possession of the puck.

The Penguins had a shaky defensive unit, so pressure will all but guarantee turnovers and giveaways in the offensive zone.

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I've been a die hard Rangers and Giants fan for as long as I can remember. I enjoy sharing opinions, and hearing from fans that love their teams just as much as I do. Henrik Lundqvist makes all of us look like mere mortals. E-mail me at: Chris.Wengert@elitesportsny.com