Rangers Look To Figure It Out in Columbus

The Rangers take on the Blue Jackets in Columbus tonight searching for that intangible known as chemistry to get this season on the rails.

A 1-3-0 start is just that and there is plenty of the season left to figure things out. But the games do add up quickly. The elephants in the room are the competitiveness of the Eastern Conference and the dynamics of a very deep Metro Division.

[Watch Tonight’s Rangers-Blue Jackets on MSG and Download Free on MSG GO]

It is imperative that the Blueshirts keep their collective heads above water while figuring things out. Falling too far below the .500 line will make for a daunting climb to playoff land.

Alain Vigneault and his staff continue to tinker with defensive combinations. Ryan McDonagh will move back to the left side with Nick Holden, Marc Staal will be the newest partner for Kevin Shattenkirk and Brandon Smith returns to the lineup, paired with Brady Skjei after being a healthy scratch for the last two games.

[Watch: Rangers Morning Skate Report With Maloney & Giannone]

For the better part of recent Ranger success, the blueline was a position that was taken for granted. It was what it was, and that was pretty good. Bottom line. Any team will be better when they figure out how to defend first. The Rangers are no different.

[Carpiniello: AV Shuffles Looking For Answers]

3 Keys to Rangers-Blue Jackets

1. Moving the Puck

Like a hanging curve in baseball, moving the puck into the middle of the ice in your own end usually ends in disaster. No better example than the opening goal against St. Louis Tuesday. If there is any question what to do with the puck under pressure, move it up the boards or eat it!

2. Start

In the four games on the books so far, the Blueshirts have been badly outplayed at the start of each game. There has been soul-searching in the locker room to figure this out. You can expect the Blue Jackets to come hard early and being in a position of not having to chase the game starts with a better start.

3. 5v5

The good news is the Ranger power play has been good with goals in three of the first four games. The not so good news is while playing 5-on-5 the Blueshirts are -5. Most of the game is played 5v5 and they need to be better. The team needs 5v5 goals from the likes of Jimmy VeseyMicheal Grabner or Kevin Hayes.

[Watch Tonight’s Rangers-Blue Jackets on MSG and Download Free on MSG GO]