I’m putting a warning out right now: What I’m about to write will not sit well with many Rangers fans.
After Sunday afternoon’s thrilling Game 3 victory over Washington in the final minutes of regulation, (despite what Bruce Boudreau might think) Madison Square Garden and the Garden Faithful were buzzing and more optimistic than ever before.
The Rangers played a hard-fought, well-deserved win over Alexander Ovechkin’s top-seeded Capitals. With that being said, if they don’t make some drastic improvements beginning with tonight’s game at the Garden, the Rangers will not last much longer in the postseason.
No matter how you cut it, it still took a perfect shot by Eric Christensen, a slam-dunk goal by Vinny Prospal and an extremely lucky bounce off of Ovechkin for Brandon Dubinsky to net the game-winner.
As I returned home from the Garden Sunday night, when glancing at the stats for the game, I was absolutely shocked by one stat: face-off percentage.
The Rangers won 45 of 80 face-offs in Game 3, good enough for 56-percent.
The reason I’m shocked is because it seemed as if the Rangers lost every face-off they attempted. Something that’s plagued them from the beginning of the season.
It might not seem like that big of a deal, but it without a doubt is the start to many bigger problems for the Blueshirts.
If you were to ask the Garden faithful what the problem with the Rangers’ dreadful powerplay is (1-for-7 in Game 3 and 1-for-11 in the series) they would instantly scream “SHOOOOOOT!”
That’s where they’re wrong, however. While the Rangers do opt to pass and cycle rather than shoot the puck more often than not, the Rangers problems on the powerplay stems right from when the puck is dropped–and then won back by the opposition.
While on the powerplay, the Rangers have only won seven draws on 22 opportunities. That’s a dismal 31-percent success rate.
It’s no wonder why the Rangers powerplay seems like it takes forever to generate any stability, because the majority of their time spent with the man advantage is consumed by chasing the puck in their own zone and regrouping.
If the Rangers are going to find any sort of success on their powerplay, something that is a neccesity if they want to advance in the playoffs, it’s going to have to start at the face-off dot.
The second problem the Rangers need to address with their powerplay is: Bryan McCabe.
McCabe was brought in for relatively nothing from the Florida Panthers in order to help the Rangers powerplay with his booming shot from the point.
There’s only one problem: it doesn’t work.
McCabe, who lines up at the furthest possible part of the offensive zone, is being stifled by the Caps’ defense as soon as he gets the puck, causing his shot to either get blocked, or him dishing the puck to a teammate on the sideboards.
Rather than take a page out of Drew Doughty’s book and skate laterally with the puck while in a shooting position trying to find a lane to open up, McCabe has opted to wait for the opposition’s defense to move out of the way… like that’s going to happen.
If McCabe isn’t going to utilize his shot in an effective manner, there really isn’t much reason for him to be in the lineup. He’s not an above-average defender, while Steve Eminger, who has sat the first three contests, brings a lot more to the table defensively than McCabe.
Although the Game 3 win was a great momentum and confidence booster for the Rangers and the Garden, it’s going to take a lot more for New York to move past the Caps than what they’ve shown thus far.