Rangers Vs. Penguins: Take It To Them

Bruce Bennett

The Rangers have their backs against the wall. Will they claw their way back into this?

Do you want to know how to beat the Penguins? You don't play scared of them.

They are, without a doubt, one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference. They have the best player in the game, a top-10 player in the game, depth up and down the lineup and one of the better coaches in the game. They're a team that you could call weak in goal (and while we all agree Marc-Andre Fleury is a shaky goaltender, he has won a Stanley Cup, so) and while their defense is good it can be looked at as a weak point as well compared to the rest of the team.

So how does that play into another team's mindset going into a game? You push them. You forecheck the hell out of them. You use your speed to try and push their defense on their heels, you crash the net every single chance you can, you shoot from everywhere and you make sure you're not throwing any "home run" passes any of their lethal weapons can chase down and put into the back of the net. In that vein, you stay the hell out of the box. And when they go in the box you attack like sharks who smell blood in the water.

So, pretty much the exact opposite of what the Rangers have done the past two games. I thought the Rangers were very much an "outside team" in Game 3, they didn't crash the net at all and at one point lost their fire and started playing "woe is me hockey." Plus they were fatigued (might have had a lot to do with the above) and frustrated (definitely had to do with the three pipes they rang).

Tonight, however, there's no time for any of that cautious hockey. The Penguins can hurt you. The Penguins will hurt you, but the Rangers have one of the best, young defensive corps in the NHL and they have the best goaltender in the NHL. They've held the Penguins to two goals in each of these three games. If the offense was even partially competent (including the power play) the past two game we're looking at a different series.

This is the alarm clock ringing for Rick Nash. I need the Rick Nash that played in Columbus a month or so ago. The guy who got into a fight, crashed the net with reckless abandon, attacked a goaltender for screwing with him, hitting everything, scored a goal (incorrectly taken off the board) and was so jacked up after the win he almost killed his own teammate. I need him to put the team on his back and drag them with him when the offense is tanking. That's his job. Not goals. It's offense.

Same goes for Martin St. Louis. No one in the NHL has more points than him since 2009. He was everything and more the Rangers could have asked for in the first round. He's been shut down in the second round. The Rangers got him to provide the backup for the games when Nash wasn't scoring. Right now neither of them are scoring, and it's not helping that the Rangers can't get a lick on the power play to boot.

Look to the "third line" along with Brad Richards and Derek Stepan. Hell, even Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast or even Dan Carcillo. The Rangers need offense. Doesn't matter where it comes from, it just matters that it happens. But the expectations to score fall on the two guys at the top.

This team needs to score goals, it needs to push back and it needs to get mad. They need to come out swinging tonight.

Basically, don't play scared.

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