By Brian Monzo
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It’s safe to say the Rangers have found themselves on the end of their first real stretch of inconsistent play this season. They’ve lost three out of their last five and look out of sorts. Brad Richards looks lost. Henrik Lundqvist looks a tad shaky. Marc Staal is certainly getting there, but since his return on Jan. 2, it’s taken him some time to get into a groove.
Coach John Tortorella has stated it’s “one game at a time” for this team, and it’s exactly that. They need to shake off their tough loss to the Penguins and find a way to come out and win their next game. From what we’ve seen all season long, there’s no reason to believe they can’t. Unless, of course, their next game is against the Bruins.
I’ve been looking at a blinking cursor for a while as I try to find words to describe the game plan going into a game with the Bruins. It’s taken a while, but I’ve thought of a few things that will certainly help the Rangers with their first matchup against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Score Early And Often
This goes without saying, but it’s rare the Bruins find themselves behind in games decided by more than two goals. A one-goal lead they can grind out, but if they need to score a few goals, the Rangers should be able to hold the fort down.
Don’t Get Sucked Into A Physical Battle
There’s no denying the Rangers are a tough team. Whether it be Brandon Prust, Brandon Dubinsky or Stu Bickel, they can hang in there. But the Bruins make a living off of teams by beating them down. If the Rangers can find their hard-working game and not get sucked into a fight, they should find themselves in a good position to get the win.
Distract Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas is a good as it gets. But, if you can find a way to get him off his game (screening, chipping at him, trash talking) he can get easily distracted and even give up a weak goal.
Stay Out Of The Box
The Bruins’ power play isn’t in the Top 10. It’s 11th. The better half of the league. Even though they don’t have a dominating power play, you can’t afford to give them any extra opportunities to win the game.
Winning any game in this league is tough to do. Hell, the Islanders can even beat the Flyers sometimes; the Senators can beat the Sharks; the Blue Jackets can beat the Red Wings (well, probably not, but you get the point).
This is the Rangers’ first test against the true premier team in the NHL right now. We should get a true feel for what this team is when the buzzer sounds.
Follow Brian on Twitter: @BMonzoWFAN