Rangers Aim to Regain Footing Vs. Kings

The Rangers face the Los Angeles Kings at The Garden tonight for the first of two meetings this season.

Both teams are coming off losses. In what can be termed a lackluster event at best, the Blueshirts were beaten 3-2 in Ottawa Wednesday evening. The Kings suffered their first defeat in nine games when they were victimized New Jersey’s speed and were soundly beaten, 5-1 at the Prudential Center on Tuesday night. For the Kings the game is the second of four consecutive on the road, while the Blueshirts will head to Boston immediately following the game to take on the Bruins at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[Watch Rangers-Kings Friday on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]

Michael Grabner and Pavel Buchnevich both scored against the Senators. Grabner continues to do a terrific job in getting to open areas with his speed and quickness and his linemates do an equally terrific job in finding the talented Austrian. He leads the Blueshirts in goals with 15 and his offense has been an absolute find for the club in this season of change on Broadway.

Meanwhile, Buchnevich’s goal was his 11th of the year and he is tied with Mika Zibanejad for second in team goal scoring. One cannot appreciate the growth of Buchnevich until you understand the adjustments both on and off the ice the 22-year-old has had to make since his arrival a year and a half ago from his native Russia.

Going from the larger-ice KHL game to the smaller-ice and longer schedule of the NHL represents change on its own. Language and culture are a whole different story and the guy affectionately accepted and known as “Pav” amongst his teammates has come a long way in a very short time. This is quite a story and the Rangers are better off as Buchnevich continues to prove that he belongs in the club’s top-6 forward grouping.

3 KEYS TO RANGERS-KINGS

1. Neutral Zone

Whether the opponent is a “speed” team or a “heavy” team, making the right decision with the puck in the neutral zone plays a crucial role in the outcome of a game. An uncontested turnover and an opponents takeaway resulted in the first two goals in the 3-2 loss to Ottawa. The Rangers must be better with the puck in the neutral zone.

[Carpiniello: Opportunity Knocks For Rangers]

2. Make Him Earn It

In the last two games, the opposing goaltender has had it, by and large, fairly easy. Blueshirt forwards need to do a better job in forcing Jonathan Quick to fight for pucks through traffic and make him battle to protect any rebound attempts. Something sorely lacking in back-to-back losses to Dallas and Ottawa.

[4 Facts to Know for Rangers-Kings]

3. NYR Blueline

While they have opened their game up somewhat, the Kings still utilize a heavy game and will not turn away from a hit when the situation calls for physicality. While it may be outside of their DNA, the six Ranger defensemen need to be grittier and willing to pay a higher physical price to defend and make a play.

[Watch Rangers-Kings Friday on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]