Youthful aggression will serve the Rangers well this season

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The Rangers fell last night to the Nashville Predators 3-2 but it could have easily gone the other way. A missed high stick to the face of Adam McQuaid in the third period might have turned this loss into a 2-1 win instead. Even though rookie coach, David Quinn felt that his team backed off too much last night, there was a distinct difference in play from last season to this season.

In Your Face

The stark contrast between last year and last night was how in your face the Blueshirts played. Last season, Alain Vigneault’s system was a simple forecheck and defensive scheme meant to force a turnover and quickly transition up ice. Quinn was having none of that as he was encouraging “in your face” hockey from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer.

Of course, that style doesn’t work without legs. Two major factors in keeping fresh legs are short shifts and conditioning. Simple biology says that younger bodies are usually stronger and recover faster. The Rangers last night had 13 skaters in their lineup 27 or younger. That kind of youth will serve the Rangers very well.

The Rangers also kept short shifts as MSG Network aired footage of David Quinn barking that order all night. This team will need to adhere to those instructions to play that style he wants.

More Shots Please

The Rangers fired 36 shots at the Predators last night. While they outshot them for the game, Nashville won the corsi battle (shot attempts for/against). What should be noted is that the Rangers youthful legs outshot the Predators in the 2nd and 3rd periods. They really came on in the 3rd period with a huge corsi advantage of 55.26%.

Jimmy Vesey was extremely notable in driving the net and firing shots on Pekka Rinne. Kevin Shattenkirk led all shooters with 7 shots on goal without the advantage of power plays. The Rangers are certainly making a concentrated effort to shoot but at times we saw reluctance by some players too take shots when given a chance.

This was highlighted in the 3rd period when Mats Zuccarello, who finished with 4 shots, tried to pass the puck when he was alone in the slot. The puck was overturned and a high danger scoring chance wasted.

Another player who didn’t register a shot on goal was Filip Chytil. This is a huge no-no going forward and he must be told to start looking shot first. He has one of the most dangerous shots on the team and he needs to use it.

Stay the Course

David Quinn is going to get this team to find another gear when they face the Sabres on Saturday and Carolina on Sunday. If the Rangers can improve just a little on their tempo and get a few more shots off, this will be a successful weekend and maybe a more successful season than pundits expected.