by Patrick Hoffman on 01/26/13 at 11:48 AM ET
This is what the New York Rangers will try to do tonight when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden.
At 1-3 through four games, it is easy to see that the Blueshirts have not found the things that made them so successful last season on a consistent basis. In fact, there have only been glimpses of the team's tight defense, great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and the ability to score big goals at important times.
This is obviously a much different kind of year for the Rangers than last seaason. Every game is important, there is not as much time to practice/work on things, there are many games in a given week and the team has only been together for a few weeks now.
With that said, and this is something that I mentioned in my previous blog, the team cannot afford to make these kinds of excuses this season. The way the game is played has not changed, the team pretty much has the same roster as it did last season and the goal is always the same, which is to get to the postseason and win the Stanley Cup.
At the other end of the ice, the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in the same postion. The Leafs are 2-2 through their first two games and have looked neither great or terrible in those games.
Both teams are looking to find a middle ground that will make them successful. Looking at both rosters, it would appear that the Rangers have a better chance to do so than the Leafs but when it comes down to it, what is on paper really does not matter.
For the Rangers to get back to being a tough team to play against, they need to do several things. They need to come out with jumo in their legs, play a physical brand of hockey, play tight defense in front of their goaltenders and get goal scoring up and down the lineup.
With 44 games left to play, the season is already moving pretty fast. If the Rangers don't stop and take a look around for their consistency, they might just miss it.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.