With the New York Rangers’ Stadium Series concluding Wednesday, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the boys have a back to back with the irrepressible New York Islanders, concluding Friday at the Garden. In their last contest the Rangers jumped to a 3-1 lead, as shaky a 2 goal lead as can be, and lost 5-3. The cross Island rivals were determined and fore-checked the heck out of the Rangers. Be prepared: though the Islanders lost last night to the Boston Bruins 6-3, they will be inspired by their previous success against the Rangers and will be going for the jugular.
Preparation for the Rangers should include better attention to details in front of the net, in both zones. While their play has us all encouraged and excited for the stretch drive, there is always room for improvement. On defense, with the man to man coverage, the Rangers can be “distracted” into sending both defensemen behind the net or at least away from it, with a back-checking forward too late in picking up the attackers in front or an attacking defenseman joining the play. They should always have someone in front regardless of the type of coverage. Let a man go if he is headed away from the net and following him would leave the slot wide open.
In the attacking zone, the Rangers give away too many chances by skating past the net. The word has to get out: the forwards need to stop in front of the net, not blow by it. There are too many juicy rebounds and deflections waiting there that become harmless as the Rangers take themselves out of the play.
These two adjustments should make it harder for the Islanders top line to get shots uncontested from the slot and make it easier for the Rangers to slam pucks home that are sitting there for the taking.