There are three key areas the New York Rangers offense needs to improve in while navigating through the 2018-19 NHL season.
Look who the New York Rangers deploy upfront. Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich are returning. Then, there are the new faces in Artemi Panarin and Kaapo Kakko. Even two of their new defensemen, Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba, have an offensive flair to their games.
This is sure to make any Blueshirts fan giddy with excitement. After being basement dwellers last season, the Rangers can very well be a playoff team this year.
Last season, the Rangers finished tied for 23rd in the NHL in goals with 221. Now, they are set up for a huge jump in that category. That being said, the Blueshirts need to take some different approaches while they are in attack mode.
Here are three things the Rangers must do differently in order to put up better offensive numbers:
1. Shoot, shoot, shoot the puck!
Any hockey coach at any level will tell you to throw the puck on net and good things will happen. Last year, the Rangers averaged 29.2 shots per game, 27th in the league. Yeah, that’s not going to do it now.
You don’t have to be a big hockey fan to know that if you’re not shooting the puck, you’re not going anywhere. What was that quote by Wayne Gretzky? Oh yes. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Sure, the New York Islanders were 29th in this stat with 28.8 and still made the playoffs. But they also averaged the 11th fewest shots against (30.9), the least amount of goals allowed (191) and had a Vezina Trophy candidate in Robin Lehner.
Yes, the new faces need to gel and develop chemistry. But Zibanejad is coming off a career year, Panarin has an amazing shot that even wowed Kreider according to MSG Network’s John Giannone, and, on paper, they have a way better offense than they had last season.
The Blueshirts must pepper their opposing goalies with the puck. There should be no excuses if they keep getting outshot on a regular basis. Which brings us to our next topic.
2. Control the puck, control the tempo
Speaking of being outshot, that’s got to be tough on the goalies. Last year, the Rangers averaged 33.8 shots against per game. Another ugly stat, they also allowed the ninth-most goals in the League last season with 267.
When the Rangers get the puck, they need to be smart and control it as much as possible. They must keep it in their opponent’s zone, and away from their own net for at least half the game.
Not only will their offensive numbers improve by doing this, but in return, the defense will also put up better numbers, and their goalies will be in much better shape if they don’t have to face 30-plus shots every other night.
If the Rangers can gain more puck possession in their games, then that’s fewer shots for the other team, fewer chances that the defense needs to defend and fewer shots that Lundqvist and Georgiev have to face. They don’t want to be a hockey equivalent to the New York Jets, almost always going three and out and having the defense out there 90% of the time.
3. Make those man advantages count
Last year, the Rangers finished 17th in the league on the power play at 19.4%. Not terrible, but still not good. Kevin Shattenkirk was supposed to be the quarterback of the power play, but he just couldn’t find his game in New York.
The Blueshirts have plenty of players that can fill that void on different power-play lines. There’s Trouba, who put up 18 points (3 goals, 15 assists) on the power play with the Winnipeg Jets, leading them in points by a defenseman on the man advantage. He’s played on the top power-play line this preseason.
There’s also the rookie Fox, he is a point-producing defenseman who ran the man advantage at Harvard. Even Tony DeAngelo has a shot, he led the Rangers in points by a defenseman with 30 points (four goals, 26 assists) in just 61 games. Maybe this sets him up for big numbers on the power play.
Regardless, head coach David Quinn has plenty of options to make his power play a potential juggernaut. With this talent, it is essential that the Rangers become a team that you’re afraid to take a penalty against.
Those are three things the Rangers must do in order to put up a lot of goals this season. If they do these three things, then they will be a very exciting team to watch.