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Is the Rangers offense an Issue and if it is, how do they fix it?

The Rangers offense was a bit all over the place during the playoffs but is it an issue? If so, can they fix it in time for next season?

More of this would be nice and should be there next season
More of this would be nice and should be there next season
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There have been and will continue to be a lot of thoughts and opinions on the whys and hows of the Rangers not winning the Stanley Cup this year. Some are reasonable, some are questionable, while some are just downright insane and while there are some merits of truth in all of the "hot takes" there is a prevailing thought that one of the biggest issues on the Rangers was a lack of scoring, especially later in the playoffs and that this is something that needs to be addressed in the offseason somehow.

I'm not exactly sold on that and there's plenty of evidence to back up why.

The Rangers had the 3rd highest goals per game in the NHL this year (behind Dallas and Tampa Bay) shooting ~9% powered mainly by Rick Nash (13.5% in the regular season, 7.2% in the playoffs), Martin St. Louis (15.3%, 3.1%), Kevin Klein (11.8%, 0.0%) and others posting above normal shooting percentages while only having ~51% of the possession share at all strengths (good for 19th on the season), so some downward regression was to be expected in the Rangers shooting department and that's partially what happened, the Rangers finished the playoffs shooting 7.7%, that's a difference of around 9 goals. A huge swing in fortune from the regular season.

Another reason for the Rangers "offensive woes"? They ran into some very very good goaltending in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Noted playoff punching bag Marc-Andre Fleury posted a solid .935 even strength save percentage and did his damndest to keep the Penguins in that five game set that the Rangers eventually ended up winning. While in the second round you had probably the best goaltending match up of the playoffs with Braden Holtby posting an absurd .947 ESSAV% over those seven games. In fact it wasn't until the Rangers got to the Eastern Conference Final that they faced a goaltender that put up an average save percentage. Ben Bishop had a .916 ESSAV% against the Rangers in a series where the Rangers scored 5 or more goals 3 times out of seven games.

Though many will point out that, yes the Rangers did get shut out in two games of the Eastern Conference Final, especially in Game Seven. Few point out that the Rangers were missing arguably their best offensive player in Mats Zuccarello (when on the ice this year the Rangers had 55% of the possession share while only carrying a 47.8% possession when Zuccarello was off the ice during the regular season). Everyone knows what happened; in Game Five of the first round match up against the Penguins, Mats Zuccarello took a Ryan McDonagh slap shot to the side of the head and ended up with a fractured skull and a brain contusion that sidelined him for the rest of the playoffs. This left a gaping hole in the top six of the lineup that was filled partially by Martin St. Louis until it was obvious that he couldn't handle Washington's tougher competition and then later by a rotation of Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller skating with Derick Brassard and Rick Nash while young Jesper Fast took the vacant spot next to Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider.

This seemed to work for a while as the 20-21-19 line was able to grind down the Capitals slow moving defensemen and get the puck at and past Braden Holtby but as prolific as they could have. It was when the Rangers ran up against the Tampa Bay Lightning that the Rangers thin offensive depth was exposed at times. The Tampa defense was able to match the Rangers speedy wingers on their breakouts as well as shut down most second chance opportunities that Bishop may have let up.

So the Rangers playoff woes stem from a downward regression in team sh%, running into two very good goalies on hot streaks, and a bad injury to probably their best offensive player. There's also the issue of Martin St. Louis being downright awful for this season and probably at the end of the road when it comes to his career. Where do the Rangers go from here to fix this "problem"?

Well, if the Rangers get Zuccarello back fully healthy (and his health should come before everything) they will have a top six of Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and J.T. Miller and while Nash may not score 40+ next year, Kreider, Stepan, and Miller are still at or under 25 while Kevin Hayes is only 23 and they are all primed to get better.

The one "fix" I would look to add to the Rangers offense is a young-ish third line scoring winger that can play next to Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes as well be able to fill in up in the lineup and on the PP if need be.

The bottom line is that there are many reasons the Rangers couldn't advance past the Lightning but the offense is probably the one reason that doesn't need to be overhauled or blown up.

Thoughts, guys?