Now that the suspensions have been handed out and injuries diagnosed, it’s time to start focusing on the critical Game 4.
The Rangers have scored just five goals in the two games since Dustin Tokarski took over the goaltending duties for the injured Carey Price. Four of those goals have been on screens, deflections or rebounds, meaning the Rangers have beaten him with clean shots just once.
The point? The Rangers need to get more traffic in front of the net, which thankfully seems to be the game plan Sunday night (via Newsday)…
“It’s just a matter of getting in front of him, causing chaos, screening, bearing down on the chances that we do get,” Chris Kreider said. “He’s a little bit smaller than Carey, and I think the fact that we need to get a little more traffic on him, maybe take his eyes away . . . would help a lot.
“There were a few times [Thursday] we’d have liked to have a few more bodies there. They’re trying to keep us from getting there, too. So there is going to be confrontation and conflict trying to get to the paint. That’s something we want to focus on going forward.”
…this should be the game plan against any goaltender in the playoffs, but especially one with a smaller frame. Getting more bodies to the net will force him to look around screens exposing more area of the net. See the St. Louis goal in Game 2 when Kreider is camped right in his grill. Tokarski goes down on his knees to find the puck, exposes the entire top half of the cage and St. Louis rips it home.
…Tokarski compensates for his lack of size by playing high on his crease, so the Rangers also need to start taking advantage of that aggressive style by faking shots coming down the wing and then pushing the puck quickly to the slot or the other side. The Nash goal in Game 2 is the perfect example. Tokarski comes out to play Kreider who pushes across to Nash and the Montreal goaltender can’t get across the crease in time to stop the puck.
…don’t get me wrong, Tokarski was real good in Game 3, but let’s be honest he rarely had to make a second chance save and the two times the Rangers sent a man without the puck to the net they scored. Tokarski has had terrible rebound control and the Rangers need to start taking advantage. If the Blueshirts want to take a stranglehold on this series that’s going to have to change.