Rangers time is now to get back to winning, face Ottawa at MSG

Hayes   (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)Make no doubt about it, the Rangers are slumping. No matter how you came to that conclusion (fancy stats, eye test or both), these Rangers have struggled for about 14 games.

On November 3rd against the Washington Capitals, the Rangers were outshot by 12 but claimed their 3rd victory during a 9 game win streak. They would be outshot in 10 of the next 15 contests, which is not that alarming but 7 times out of those 10 were by ten or more shots.

In their last game against the Colorado Avalanche (a 2-1 loss) they outshot them 25-18. Maybe the first real sign that they may start to turn things around. More shots aren’t going to directly lead to more wins, but at least it shows the Rangers are starting to make a more conscious effort to put pucks on net. When you are slumping, sometimes the best strategy is to keep it simple and just throw as much rubber at the opposition goalie as you can.

However, their opponent today thrives on winning games while being outshot, much like the Rangers were. In Ottawa’s last 6 games where they’ve been outshot, they’re 5-1. So the Rangers will not only need to throw pucks on net, but make the most of their chances by pushing pucks across the slot line to get Craig Anderson (not yet confirmed) moving.

On the other end, Henrik Lundqvist is going to be hungry for a rebound performance. In his last 4 games he is 1-2-1 (starting with debacle against MTL) and has allowed an uncharacteristic 13 goals against. He is probably as fired up as any Blueshirt taking the ice tonight.

It is also important to note that the Senators will be without the services of Kyle Turris who was injured last night against the Islanders. That somewhat evens out the fact the Rangers are without Derek Stepan.

Two interesting players for the Rangers today will be Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider. How will they respond after what Alain Vigneault said recently. As reported by the NYDN:

“I think Hayes-ee is, like we’ve said many times, I think I said it at the beginning of the year about Kreids, that I think this is his year to (break) out,” Vigneault said. “Maybe by doing that sometimes I put too much pressure on the player. Maybe I’m partly responsible. But I have so much faith and belief in the potential of those guys, and Chris Kreider and his work ethic. I think I’m right in assuming they can be impact players in this league.”

Will they feel a bit of weight lifted off their shoulders and a vote of confidence all at the same time? At this point, it can’t get any worse. Also, the Rangers actually have been better defensively and have cut down on read and coverage mistakes. They need to keep that up and make routine plays habit instead of the breakdowns that became epidemic for a month.

It’s time for the Rangers to keep the momentum of doing the little things right going. It’s time for the Rangers to get back to their winning ways. Today is a good day as any to start.