Less is More for Rangers Against Panthers

The Rangers are in Sunrise Florida tonight to take on the Panthers in the second game of a two-game road trip.

The Blueshirts are coming off their most complete game of the season, a 2-1 overtime victory in Tampa Bay against the Lightning. The win was the first for the Rangers on the road and it marked the first time that they have put back-to-back wins on the books this year. Meanwhile the Panthers have lost two consecutive, giving up 15 goals in the process.

[Coverage of the Rangers-PanthersTilt Starts Tonight at 6:30 PM on MSG and MSG GO. Download Free]

J.T. Miller scored a brilliant goal in the extra session in Tampa, taking the puck with speed and authority through the neutral zone, driving the net and patiently out waiting Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy. Patience and authority marked the way the Rangers played and should be the blueprint moving forward. Less chaos in the defensive zone meant for less scrambling by Henrik Lunqvist.

Even better, the smart play in the defensive end did not come at the price of failing to generate offense. The Blueshirts fired a total of 35 shots on goal, but for the stellar play of Vasilevskiy the game would not have gotten to overtime.

The Panthers have had to deal with injuries early in the season, one of which is a hand injury to their most important player netminder, Roberto Luongo. He will not play tonight but expected back in the lineup will be Colton Sceviour and Jared McCann. Scevior will help shore up a penalty kill unit that sits in the 29th spot in the league.


1. Follow Through

The benchmark has been set with the win in Tampa. The game was simpler and very little was compromised to get the win over one of the leagues top teams. It will not take long to recognize what was learned from the victory.

2. Stopping, Starting

In the defensive zone less havoc is better. While it is easier to cycle and spin away from an opponent in the defensive zone, stops and starts are essential to solid, structured defensive zone coverage. If it looks like “public skating” music should be playing while the Blueshirts are in their own end, expect trouble to follow.

3. NYR Power Play

The numbers sure favor the Rangers here. The Blueshirts are clicking at about a 21% efficiency on the power play, good for 10th in the league, while the Panthers penalty kill is the third worst in the NHL, proficient just 71% of time.

[Coverage of the Rangers-PanthersTilt Starts Tonight at 6:30 PM on MSG and MSG GO. Download Free]