Rangers offense breaks out against the Ducks! Can they keep it going?

Mats Zuccarello wins it in a shootout (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mats Zuccarello wins it in a shootout (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Rangers managed 3 goals against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Although the Rangers only scored 2 goals in regulation the shootout awarded them with a 3. The last time the Rangers scored 3 goals in regulation in a game was March 18, at MSG against the Capitals. Before that you have to go all the way back to the 4-1 win against the Nashville Preditors on March 2.

Despite the lack of scoring the Rangers are still near top of the NHL.

The Blueshirts are still finding ways to get points even though the scoring had dried up so we won’t be too pessimistic. The Rangers have played well in their end the last 3 weeks even with a banged up defense. However, the Rangers defenseman aren’t going to be the problem come playoff time. Kevin Klein should be healthy and the blueline will be at full strength again. Henrik Lundqvist should be healthy and in top form by then also.

Up front the Rangers have changed their lines around since Martin St. Louis went down. Still the top 6 guys on this team need to step up in the big games no matter the lineup. As an optimistic Ranger fan even I am concerned about the lack of scoring from the Rangers core players.

The Kill Zone vs. Buffalo on 3.10.14 (Sporting Charts)

The Kill Zone vs. Buffalo on 3.10.14 (Sporting Charts)

In a recent post, FTNYR broke down in great detail the Rangers last 9-10 games. We’ve looked at shot location, shooting percentages, team strategy, and player slumps. None of which, have looked good for the Rangers in some time. While I am personally a huge proponent of team strategy and statistics, the Rangers problem is drive. As FTNYR Editor in Chief, Anthony stated the Rangers lack killer instinct. They need to stop squeezing their sticks so hard and play the game. Too many times the Rangers have passed the puck instead of shooting it and passed up scoring chances.

Can numbers explain the Rangers lack of scoring?

In a project done by some very smart computer scientists at Waronice.com, data was collected from as far back as 2004 to see what the best predictor of future goals was. They found that for forwards the best known statistic for predicting Goals For was scoring chances. The Rangers have fallen backwards in this statistic in recent weeks. They’re only getting 47.8% of the total scoring chances in their last 9 games played.

This isn’t indicative of a high scoring team like the Rangers had been for the first 5 months of the 14/15 season. I like crunching numbers but for a team with dreams of holding the Stanley Cup in the air, this cannot continue. Especially against a team like the Carolina Hurricanes who have played well over the last month (55.5% SCF%). The Rangers managed to come out with 2 points so lets temper our criticism but I’m looking at the rest of the schedule.

The games will only get tougher, scoring harder down the stretch!

The Rangers still have to play some tough teams before the regular season is through. They have to play the Caps (2), NJD (2), Ott (2), Bruins, Jackets, Wild, Jets and Kings. They need to get their top players in top form as they play these final 12 games. No team wants to go limping into the playoffs. No matter how well they played before. The Rangers got hot at the right time last season and went through the playoffs in dramatic form. This is that time to get hot, not the time for your top six to start having a problem scoring goals.

Derek Stepan relieved to scored (Elsa/Getty)

Derek Stepan relieved to scored (Elsa/Getty)

I don’t think the Rangers are in trouble right now because there are important players out of the lineup. With an incomplete lineup and lines changing, it can be hard for players to find chemistry with linemmates after playing months with the same players. After Sunday’s 7 goal barrage against Anaheim things are looking up.

The Rangers are still in good shape but their play has slipped of late. It’s something to keep an eye on during the last 11 games of the season. Hopefully the Rangers can continue to lift their play to match the competition.

As a Ranger fan I’m cautious but optimistic. It won’t matter what they did in the regular season once the playoffs begin. The Rangers could still lose a first round series after all they accomplished even though it is unlikely. However, as long as they keep their eye on the prize this team could still be a force in the playoffs.