Rangers getting good scoring chances but not finishing them off
BRANDON, Fla. -- Put the biscuit in the basket!
That was the message from coach Alain Vigneault to the Rangers on Tuesday after Monday's 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay.
The Rangers' season-long frustration of not scoring enough goals -- they've tallied two or fewer in 15 of their 24 games -- simmered in the aftermath of the Tampa Bay game. The Rangers were shut out by Ben Bishop despite outshooting the Lightning 37-25.
The Rangers are tired of working hard enough to get good chances only to fail to convert. It's what Vigneault emphasized Tuesday in practice before the team headed across Florida for Wednesday night's matchup with the Panthers in suburban Sunrise.
"When I analyze the type of chances we're getting, the quality of the chances we're getting, we're doing a good job," Vigneault said. "Quality chances -- whether it be on the rush, whether it be on our power play, whether it be when we're in the zone and we're cycling the puck and protecting the puck."
So what's the problem then? Was Bishop just that good?
"I think we've got to look at ourselves first," Rick Nash said. "Every goalie in this league's a good goalie no matter who you play. So we've got to work on shooting the puck through the net and we're working harder at getting more opportunities."
Said Brad Richards: "For whatever reason, we're finding ways to get shots and some good chances, but we just can't put it in the net."
Vigneault made a lineup change in the third period on Monday -- switching Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan -- and he kept the new alignment in practice yesterday. He said he's going to consider some more tinkering before Wednesday night's contest.
"Our top two lines, they're generating some good quality chances," Vigneault said. "Why the finish is not there? We keep working on the things that we know: traffic, screen the goalie, work on your skills a little bit more, quicker release, etc."
Vigneault talked about the Rangers perhaps having to resign themselves to playing 2-1, 1-0 types of games. But it's more likely he'll continue trying to figure out a way for them to convert some of those good looks into goals.
Notes & quotes: Vigneault said Henrik Lundqvist would start Wednesday night after Monday's performance in which he was pulled after allowing four goals in two periods. Vigneault was leaning toward starting Cam Talbot on Friday in Boston but said he might change his mind. The Rangers also play Saturday in former coach John Tortorella's return to the Garden with Vancouver . . . J.T. Miller, a healthy scratch in the last four games, was returned to Hartford (AHL). Taylor Pyatt (concussion) has been cleared to play, Vigneault said.