New York Rangers Need to Pick Up Offense Before the Playoffs


You wouldn’t know it by looking at their record this month (7-1-1), but the New York Rangers have been struggling to find the scoresheet. In February they had an average of 3.78 goals per game, yet when March came around that number dropped down to 2.00. That’s almost two goals missing per game in this month compared to last month.

In fact, the Rangers have scored 3 or more goals in regulation time only twice so far this month as opposed to ten times in February.

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While scoring goals is a team effort, it’s hard not to notice how two players in particular haven’t lit the lamp as often as before. Rick Nash is now in a five-game points drought. In February he had eight goals and six assists for 14 points. This month, Nash has only two goals and two assists in the books thus far. Kevin Hayes has also cooled off. Last month he logged 12 points with six goals and six assists. This month he has one goal and two assists up to now. If Nash and Hayes can find that magic that they had back in February, they have to find it soon.

The drop in goal production doesn’t seem like a big deal if you’ve been keeping track of the Rangers’ position in the league standings. They were all the way up at the number one spot for a good chunk of time just last week. As of this post (after a SO win over Carolina), the Rangers are now third in the league with 97 points, and number one in the Metropolitan Division with five points over the New York Islanders. With this much success, their trouble in getting the puck in the net couldn’t be all that much of a problem.

Or is it?

When the difference between winning and losing is often by just one goal, the Rangers’ current two goal deficit per game is not particularly something that can be ignored. I’m sure it caught many of other fans’ attention as it had clearly became apparent to head coach Alain Vigneault when he decided to switch up the line combinations. Before the matchup with Carolina, he moved Hayes from left wing on the second line back to center on the third line, according to Jim Cerny of Where Hayes filled in, James Sheppard was displaced to the wing on the fourth line. J.T. Miller was also moved to the left wing on the second line.

And according to the tweet below, Vigneault believes the line changes should bring plenty more goals.

After the changes and watching the Rangers’ 3-2 win in a shootout with the Carolina Hurricanes, we have yet to see improvement in New York’s offense. In fact, it may have even been worse in that game because play was more often in the neutral and Rangers’ defensive zones rather than around Carolina’s net.

On the other hand, this may be exactly where the team needs to be. Rather than over-exerting themselves by trying to score insurance goals, the Rangers could be saving energy for when it matters most: in the Playoffs. Just getting by, barely winning games, is actually the best plan right now. There’s no point in pushing yourself to score and risking injury when your spot in the Playoffs is as sure as the sky is blue. But hopefully that is what they’re doing instead of truly struggling to score.

Whatever the case may be, the time to buckle down is quickly approaching. There are 6 games left in March and just as many in April before the regular season ends for the Rangers. Their defense may be one of the best in the league, even without Henrik Lundqvist in net, but the Rangers absolutely must pick up offense in the Playoffs if they’re going to be strong competition.

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