New York Rangers. Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Rangers need to find a way to put the puck in the net before they fall into a hole that’s too big to climb out of.

Frank Curto

When the horn sounded at the end of the New York Rangers game against the Calgary Flames, the shots on goal was much more concerning than the final score.

SOG: NYR 45, CGY 26

The Rangers had one goal on Sunday night as Mika Zibanejad scored his third of the year on the power play midway through the third period. The team once again was unable to score at five-on-five and they have only two five on five goals in the last three games played.

Head coach David Quinn has continued to rotate lines while trying to find a combination that can be productive. The lines on Sunday night worked well in creating scoring chances, but the bottom line is the team cannot finish a play with any kind of consistency.

The Jimmy Vesey-Brett Howden-Pavel Buchnevich line skated with efficiency and confidence as they skated with plenty of pressure in the Flames zone for must of the game. The line combined for six shots on goal with zero points—a common stat this season.

There have been seen several times players like Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, and Jimmy Vesey. Players squeezing their sticks in the power play, missing the net on high-quality shots. These mistakes are a result of a team watching, and thinking about a play instead of being in the play.

“We created a lot of chances and we can sit here and say that we didn’t play a bad game, but we lost,” forward Mats Zuccarello said to New York Post writer Brett Cyrgalis. “It’s not good enough.”

How to solve the problem

What can be done to get the Rangers out of this scoring drought? There is no sure-fire answer, but there are some things that can help.

    1. Keep shooting the puck. It’s similar to what Quinn has talked about regarding rookie forward Filip Chytil. During the Rangers broadcast Sunday night, Joe Micheletti discussed the rookies scoring issues and how the head coach felt once he scored his first goal the “floodgates” would open. Once the team starts scoring goals, it could jumpstart everyone.
    2. The Rangers need to make the smart plays when in the offensive end of the ice. This isn’t rocket scientist stuff. The term” keep it simple stupid” is how to play the game especially during the tough times in a season. With struggles scoring like the ones the team faces now, players tend to overthink their opportunities. Instead of shooting the puck, players will pass on prime chances thinking only the perfect shot will score a goal.
    3. Putting bodies in front of the net is another good way to see the puck hit the back of the net more often. Opposing team goalies need to be screened and the Rangers need to get guys like Kreider and Ryan Spooner to screen the goalies not just on the power play but in all scoring situations.
    4. The power play needs to be more efficient with a better commitment to set up inside the oppositions blue line. The man advantage can bring scoring momentum even if the team doesn’t get the goal. It builds up confidence when players get an opportunity to hit the back of the net as was the case Sunday night for the entire team once they scored that power play goal in the third period.

The Rangers played relentless hockey from that goal straight through the end of the game. The only thing they didn’t get right was to score a few goals.

The team knows what to do; they just have to do it!

David Quinn addressed the lack of team scoring during his post-game report on Sunday night. The head coach said, “I think we have to be more tenacious with a shooting mentality.”

In a simpler definition, shoot the damn puck with conviction! The old adage is true today: you can’t score if you don’t shoot and the Rangers are shooting. Now, the coach wants the team not just to shoot from anywhere, but shoot with authority.

The team knows the problem, they are professionals at their sport. Speaking with reporters Sunday night via Rangers TV, Mika Zibanejad spoke about another element. 

“We have to get a little more grit into our offensive game around the net.”

The team has to continue to get shots are net. Murphy’s law will prevail and eventually, the pucks will start hitting the back of the net.

The gates need to open and open soon for the Blueshirts who have battled hard every night but only have two wins to show for it. An overtime win against San Jose and a shootout win against the Avalanche last Thursday. No goal scoring sometimes means no regulation wins and that is where the Rangers sit now.

This may be a team that is rebuilding, but the fact remains the organization didn’t help the team out at all in the offseason. It’s hard to improve in scoring this year when it’s just about the same team that struggled in scoring last season. Quinn can only do so much with varying the line combinations. Taking more shots in practice filled with players standing in front of one of the best goalies in the league can only help them get better.

Should this continue, the trade rumors will soon begin. It is inevitable that moving players might be the best way to resolve the problem. The contract situation of Kevin Hayes and Zuccarello make them prime targets for other teams to be asking about.  Add to that a name like Chris Kreider, who again is having his typical on and off the regular season, and the team has options to improve the lack of scoring.

Along with trades, the team will consider bringing up some offense punch from the AHL, in Lias Andersson.

As long as the team stays competitive and continues to try and look at all options to improve scoring goals, this team will be fine. The other side of that coin is if the Rangers don’t find a way to score, things will get bad very fast, especially as the Rangers head out for a four-game west coast trip following Tuesday’s night’s contest against the Florida Panthers at the Garden.

Should things continue at this pace, the frustration will absolutely set in for the new head coach, veterans, rookies and all of Rangerstown.

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