The biggest question mark heading into the playoffs was the Rangers offense — or lack of. Through 11 games, it's been a problem, as New York has scored four goals just once, and it was the first game of the postseason.
Heading into Game 5 tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers know they have to create more chances against the the Capitals and their rookie goaltender Braden Holtby.
Michael Del Zotto said the Rangers have to work their way through Washington's "layers" of defense, which have been averaging 26.2 blocks per game this series.
"At times, we've been doing a good job of getting the puck past that first layer but they're doing a good job of having their center icemen filling the middle of the ice and their D are fronting all shots all the time in front of the net so it's the second and third layer and those are the toughest ones to get it by, they're just reading whatever lane you're shooting."
The cries from fans to shoot have fallen on deaf ears throughout the season, and Del Zotto said the Rangers have to fire pucks faster before the Capitals clog the lane.
"I think shooting quicker might help," he said. "Not alloing them to get into the lane, the collapse all five guys."
"You want to try to shoot it around them or around the blocks," said Marian Gaborik, who has a two-game goal streak heading into Game 5. "Find a way so it doesn't get blocked. They got their first layer, even their second layer when they're blocking shots, we just have to find a way to get it to the net. Sometimes when they're expecting it, try to shoot it unexpected, just shoot it at the net and get bodies at the net."
Although the results are lacking, Brad Richards said the team cannot get frustrated.
"If we looked and we had 25 scoring chances, or 40 shots, maybe we'd get frustrated," he said. "But we haven't done that. I don't think [Holtby] has had to stand on his head too often so we're more worried about what we have to do."
It's one thing to say it, but we have to see results Monday night. The Rangers haven't applied sustained pressure against the Capitals or Holtby the entire series. They have to establish their game early on and play physical. The Capitals matchup well with the Rangers, so New York has to be the aggressor right out of the gate.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia