‘Offense’ is now the New York Rangers’ favorite word, and to put it in simple terms, they just don’t have it at the moment.
Before Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, there were only two active forwards on the team with goals (Brad Richards, Derek Dorsett). Three forwards finally broke through and notched their first of the season (Benoit Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard).
The Rangers put forth a spectacular effort on Saturday and they seemed to carry that over into last night’s home opener against the Montreal Canadiens. But, it’s the same old story; they were blanked by Peter Budaj and put a goose egg on the scoreboard.
Tonight, the Rangers head out onto Long Island to face-off against a tough New York Islanders opponent (who just acquired Thomas Vanek from Buffalo in a trade). There will be no second guesses about their defense, the dynamic duo of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh will most definitely step up and play their best which is what they always do against bigger and better teams.
Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers had chances last night and there were some quality ones, but they simply couldn’t finish. They ran into a hot goaltender, a great penalty kill and simply fell short. The key here is to not get frustrated. Their season has been going horribly so far and at some point it’s going to turn around and get better, fans are hoping it is tonight.
After recovering over the summer from shoulder surgery, forward Carl Hagelin will make his return to the line-up tonight. Head coach Alain Vigneault sounds excited and he should be, he’s got loads of talent in the 25 year-old Swedish-born winger.
So, what does Hagelin’s return mean for this team? Well, he’s got the speed to create many offensive chances and he’s got flair, which is what the Rangers have been lacking up top. Last season, Hagelin chipped in 10 goals and 14 assists totaling 24 points in 48 games. He’s not a 40-goal scorer by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help this team out, a team that is crying for help at offense and a team that is missing Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan, two vital parts to the Rangers’ system.
We will have to wait and see what tonight holds in store for the Blueshirts. We will be able to tell what team is on tap within the first ten minutes. If they get off to a flying start with guns blazing, they will be alright.
But the question is, do they have the ability to pull that off?