New York Rangers: How to maintain a playoff spot in the second half

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13: Mats Zuccarello
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13: Mats Zuccarello /

The New York Rangers have gotten themselves into some trouble as of late, not winning games they need to have. Here’s what they need to do in the second half of this season to maintain a playoff spot.

Yes, it is abundantly clear that the New York Rangers do not have the most competent coaching staff. However, that is no excuse for the lackluster display of hockey that they’ve showcased over the course of the last few games.

So how exactly can the team turn it around and go back to their streaking ways of November? After all, a good, long winning streak would do them wonders right now.

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First things first, the Rangers definitely have a case of the injury bug going around. And unfortunately, that’s something they no team is ever in control of.

That aside, though, here are some things they can fix.

They can fix the early goals against.

Games against the Islanders and Penguins have proven that they have reverted back to their October ways. And this is simply unacceptable. This is about being prepared from minute one until the last minute night in and night out. It could also have to do with fatigue.

Another issue they have is their second periods, which have been absolutely disastrous since the start of the season. Even when they were playing better, the second period was always their worst. And as of late, their third periods, which used to be their best, have proved to be nothing more than sloppy plays and minor pushes to tie games.

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The power play is its own issue. Despite coming through a few times in the last number of games, it has gone stale. Kevin Shattenkirk has done nothing to help, as was the Rangers’ hope.

All these things and more are things that the Rangers need to fix, along with consistency. So how can they expect to maintain a playoff spot?

They looked a lot better Tuesday night against their divisional rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers. While they did allow the Flyers to score first, they rebounded. They finished the first period with three unanswered goals and won the game 5-1.

Their second period wasn’t the “defense-falls-apart” period. This was one of their best 60-minute efforts all season long.

And finally, there is no reason at all their power play shouldn’t be operating at a higher percentage. Mika Zibanejad has been back from his injury for long enough to make an impact, so they can’t blame it on not having a right-handed shot.

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This Rangers’ team is not playing to their full potential. And in the incredibly challenging Metropolitan Division, that will not stand. They better figure out their game, and fast.