Here is his first post -- we will have him set up over the next few days:
For the past month or so, it seems like every game the Blueshirts have played has been a playoff game. There is a sense of urgency, every player is trying to contribute, the team's big guns are finding ways to score and more importantly, they are trying to establish some much needed consistency in their game.
Tomorrow night, the team kicks off the month of April with a game against the red hot Carolina Hurricanes. The last time these two teams met (March 10, 2009), the Hurricanes shut the Rangers out in what was a pretty listless game for the boys in blue. Almost a month later, however, the Rangers are playing much better hockey and realize that every point they can get from now till the end of the season could go a long way towards clinching a spot in the ever-tight Eastern Conference.
While the next two games against the Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins (Saturday afternoon) won't be easy, there are a number of things the team can do to come up with the necessary points needed to help them secure a playoff spot:
- Continue to get pucks to the net: On Monday night against the New Jersey Devils, the team fired 37 shots at Martin Brodeur - 20 of them in the first period. By getting pucks to the net, you create scoring chances by deflecting shots, getting rebounds, screening the goaltender and being in the right place at the right time.
- Be careful with pinching on defense: Head coach John Tortorella noted at today's skate how the team was a lot more careful about pinching to keep the puck in against the Devils on Monday night. By doing so, the Rangers were able to keep odd-man rushes against to a minimum.
- Scoring on the power play: This has been a sore spot for the team all season but if they can cash in at the right time in these situations, the points will come their way.
- Get good goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist: Lundqvist was terrific on Monday night and will have to play just as well, if not better, down the home stretch. Luckily for Lundqvist, he's played well against both the Hurricanes and Bruins in his short career.
That may be a lot to ask but the team must do everything it can to get into the playoffs. If they get there, anything can happen.
Monzo: Looking forward to Hoffman's contributions. A reminder to hit us up on Facebook -- the response has been pretty good. More later...