You have to be slightly concerned. Not on the scale of the typical jump-off-the-bridge Ranger fan, no, but you should still be slightly worried about what unfolded tonight, coupled with the game against the Habs, and what has been going on for much of the season.
The troubling thing is NOT the lack of shots. I’ve never bought into that being a huge issue. It’s a little concerning for sure, but it’s not the be all end all. Let’s face it, shots get blocked, shots go wide, sticks break, etc. The thing that’s concerning is that the Rangers are not even getting into a position to get quality chances. They aren’t even able to connect on simple cross ice passes without fumbling the puck. They can’t seem to execute the most basic of plays. The back door pass isn’t even a thought in their repertoire. They get the puck behind the net but the wingers are out wide instead of one going straight to the front of the net. The defenseman pass when they should shoot, shoot when they should pass, and their decision making is just plain off….a lot.
Let’s not blow this up into a major fiasco. They lost by 1 goal to a damn fast team which play a style we know the Rangers have trouble with. The Panthers basically are the Habs 2.0. They pass the puck fast, with authority, and keep their feet moving the entire game. The Rangers are a slower more methodical team, they aren’t built to counteract that style unless they can get their cycle game going, and on the rare occasion that the Rangers were able to get it going, they never put a quality chance up on the board. It was just…possession, possession, possession, possession, lose the puck, reset, make a line change. Nothing was coming from it.
This is not the coaches fault. If anyone thinks that Tortorella is telling this team not to shoot then they are off their rocker. The fact of the matter is, the Rangers just seem to feel that unless they have the perfect chance, their shots aren’t going to go in. It’s a confidence thing. Even Gabby seems to be falling a little bit into this category, as he is looking for his teammates (as seen by his perfect assist to Stepan) more and more, and looking to shoot less and less. I like Tortorellas practice approach of hammering them with pushups for every missed shot, but it needs to go one step further. Plain and simple, if you aren’t shooting the puck, you sit your ass on the bench. Show them, shots on goal equals ice time.
For a team that is having trouble scoring,t he simplest way to break the funk is to simplify. Get pucks to the net. Get bodies to the net. Whack away. It’s not rocket science. It works at every single level. As their confidence rises, you can mix in the pretty passing plays, the puck possession wait for the perfect play type game. Because you still have the gritty lunch pail style sitting in your back pocket to fall back on.
The Rangers are doing a lot of things right, but their offensive zone execution needs to be taken back to the simplest form, and stressed to this team in a methodical fashion. SHOOT THE PUCK. Shoot it from anywhere, shoot it from everywhere, and crash the net. It may not be pretty, but it gets you goals.