Friday, April 15, 2011

Rangers Offensive Leaders Must Answer the Call In Game 2

The New York Rangers played well enough defensively in Game 1 to take the series lead against the Washington Capitals, but the offense did not generate nearly enough to actually get the win.  The team only managed to generate 25 shots on goal.  While those numbers are lower because of the 32 blocked shots by the Capitals defense, of the 25 that hit the net likely only a handful truly tested Neuvirth. 

Playing their system better would certainly help the Rangers if they had more puck possession and were able to get traffic in front of Neuvirth and see just how ready he is for this stage.  Beyond that though, while the entire offense struggled, this is the time of year the guys you look to are your stars to provide the offense.  For Washington both goals came from Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin while Gaborik, and Dubinsky were held off the board for the Rangers.  That cannot continue if the Rangers are going to get Game 2 tonight and return home with a split.

Marian Gaborik played with good effort and created some chances, but at this time of the year there are no moral victories and he is judged by whether he finishes his chances with goals not just how he plays. The chance he had from point blank range in front, even if in his skates, is one that a player of his talent, and the team’s offensive struggles, has to finish. 

Brandon Dubinsky simply has to be better overall.  He played an ineffective game and never had a significant impact after Alex Ovechkin delivered a big hit on Dubinsky during the first period.  It was the kind of hit that sets the tone for the series and helps to fire up the troops for the Capitals while the Rangers played a reactive game for much of the night.  Dubinsky has been one of the leaders for the Rangers all season long, in all facets of the game and they need him to be that in this series.  If the Capitals stars are going to produce for them offensively, then the Rangers need to have their best offensive weapons respond in kind.