The Rangers enter tonight’s crucial game two trailing the Kings after one and given the Rangers relative poor home form it’s essential they get even in the series tonight. The Rangers could really do with winning tonight’s game two as the pressure would be back on the Kings heading to New York. To do so, several Rangers are going to have to improve on their recent performances. Let’s take a look at three Rangers who could have a huge influence on tonight’s game with improved performances.
Following a breakout year leading the Rangers offensively and being part of the club’s most consistent line all year long, things have gone stale for the little Norwegian. With no points in his last six playoff games Zuccarello is the definition of cold. For a team with no obvious, go-to offensive producer and for a team reliant on balanced scoring Zuccarello can’t remain so ineffective in game two.
Many media experts were saying the Kings biggest advantages against the Rangers were through their physicality and down the middle of the ice. Derek Stepan has blown hot and cold all playoffs but has still been one of the more reliant Ranger forwards for the most part. That said, Stepan was a -1 and registered just one shot against the Kings, had a huge turnover and won just 47% of his draws.
If Anze Kopitar really is as good as Wayne Gretzky says he is Stepan needs to be better in game two. The Rangers don’t need to win the battle down the middle but they can’t be dominated either.
For the most part, Staal has been a pillar of strength for the Rangers all season and throughout the playoffs. In the past few games however, Staal has coughed the puck up, been inconsistent positionally and not been the shutdown defensive player Rangers fans have grown to love.
If the Rangers are going to compete against the Kings, Staal has to use his body better as he is one of the more physically capable Rangers skaters and he needs to keep the Kings forwards at bay. A -5 rating and 5 giveaways registered over his last three playoff games are numbers Rangers’ fans are not used to seeing from Staal. If Staal plays well in game two the Rangers will be a lot better for it.