The most telling thing anyone associated with the Rangers has said about their offensive struggles came before Game 2 of their second-round series against Carolina. That’s when Artemi Panarin described wanting to make “some fool on the blue line” but was hampered by the team’s conservative game plan.
With Friday night when the Rangers were beaten 2-0 by the Hurricanes and only recorded four high-risk chances, it’s fair to wonder if it’s time to take more risks in order to create a more serious chance for Carolina goaltender Antti Raanta to give exam.
“We didn’t win the games,” said coach Gerard Gallant. “Well yes, to a point. But I don’t want us to change a lot.”
Carolina’s man-to-man defense has given the Rangers fits. Rangers stars, especially Panarin, are struggling to find space or create with the puck. Fighting in the face-off circle didn’t help either.
“When we’re at the end and trying to beat the guys one-on-one,” said Alexis Lafreniere on Saturday. “You’re playing man-to-man, so just try to beat your guy. Go to the net… there won’t be that many failed goals. There will be busy goals in front of the net. Rebounds, tips so just go online, do the right things. If you do the right things for 60 minutes, you’ll get some jumps.”
Kevin Rooney pointed out that Rangers have been a good defensive team all season, so in that sense, a low-event game can work in their favor. But no one confuses the Rangers with last season’s Islanders. The main reason Rangers finished second in goals conceded was because of one man, goaltender Igor Shesterkin.
Although the Rangers were able to win the opener, the series was played on Carolina’s terms except for the first 40 minutes.
Whether that means opening up Panarin to freelancers like the regular season does, or simply adopting a slightly less conservative game plan is a question Gallant will have to grapple with.
“I think if we can continue to be patient and let things happen and not try to force anything – because that’s where you get in trouble against this team – then we’ll be rewarded,” Rooney said.
Although Sammy Blais has been in training, he’s “not even close” to returning, Gallant said. He added that Blais is not ruled out for the playoffs.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/21/rangers-open-to-offense-taking-more-risks-to-a-point/ Rangers open to attacks taking more risks “up to a point”.