Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rangers Must Impose Their Will On Capitals Early and Often

One of the things the 2010-11 New York Rangers has done best this season is respond after a poor performance or when they were in danger.  They need that spirit again today.  Down 2-0 in the best of seven series with the Washington Capitals the Rangers must come out with a fire, passion and execution that tells everyone involved that this series is far from over.  The Rangers have been in both games for long stretches, but have not been able to play well enough to grab hold of either game.  This afternoon that must change and it must change early. 

If New York can get off fast and score an early goal their confidence will rise and doubt might creep back into the minds of the Capitals who have experienced their share of playoff shortcomings.  The longer it takes the Rangers to get on the board, the more confidence Washington will have and the tighter the Rangers players will become as they press to break the seal on Michal Neuvirth’s net.  Slumps in scoring are nothing new for this team and the way they break out of them is to get back to the basics of how they play. 

The Rangers at their most effective offensively are based on their dump and chase philosophy that allows them to get in on the forecheck, cycle the puck and just outwork the opponent to generate chances.  The goal from Matt Gilroy was created in that exact way when Brandon Prust disrupted the defense playing the puck behind the net and eventually it was worked to Wolski behind the net and he found a pinching Matt Gilroy.  The problem is that there has been no consistency to that system in the first two games and it is why the team has the one goal. 

The Rangers cannot and should not panic being down 0-2 to the Capitals, but they also cannot be complacent in trying to change the look and feel of this series.  Even when the Rangers went up 1-0 in Game 1 there was never really a feel that they were in control of the game and they need to start imposing the will that got them to this point or they will be down 0-3 in a hurry.