by Patrick Hoffman on 02/02/13 at 02:57 PM ET
Update: According to Rangers' beat writer Steve Zipay, it appears that Rangers' back-up goaltender Martin Biron will make his first start of the season tonight.
That will certainly be the case tonight for the New York Rangers when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa.
The Blueshirts are coming off one of their worst performances of this young season. On Thursday night at Madison Square Garden against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers were kept quiet offensively, took another careless too many men on the ice penalty and lacked the energy that is needed to be competitive in a hockey game.
At the other end of the ice, the Lightning are just the opposite. The team is scoring goals like crazy (beat the Winnipeg Jets 8-3 last night), cashing in on the power play and at the time of this writing, is the top team in the Eastern Conference with a 6-1 record, having won five straight games.
For the Rangers to start winning hockey games, their offense is going to need to step up in a big way. Besides the line of Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and Rick Nash, the team's forwards have been very quiet.
The team needs the likes of Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin to start putting the puck in the net. These two players have not played badly but they are not finding themselves on the scoresheet, which could become a problem as this season goes further.
Secondly, the Blueshirts need to stop taking needless penalties. It seems like whenever the team has taken a too many men on the ice penalty, the opponent has cahsed in on the power play. This is the worst kind of penalty to take in a hockey game and one that is totally preventable.
Lastly, the Rangers need to bring the energy they had last season. Last season, the team forechecked hard, played physical, generated lots of turnovers and were a very tough hockey team to play against. Through the team's first seven games this season, that has not been the case.
It is quite apparent that things are not going to be easy for the Rangers this season. The team has a target on their backs and right now, that target is being hit all over the place.
The club must find a way to get back in the right mindset and play the hockey that they are capable of playing. Until they do that, however, things will continue to be difficult for the Blueshirts.
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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.
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