Bad Week for Reeling Rangers


Mitchell Layton

(Mitchell Layton/MCT)


(Mitchell Layton/MCT)
(Mitchell Layton/MCT)

The Rangers capped a four game road trip with three straight losses this week. Scoring just two-goals all week, and conceding nine, the Rangers slipped out of playoff contention into ninth place in the Eastern Conference, perhaps made most uncomfortable by the unfamiliar feeling of being behind their local rival, the New York Islanders.

On Tuesday night, the Rangers played the floundering Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, losing 3-1. Ryan Callahan combined with Derek Stepan for a shorthanded goal in the second period for the game’s first goal. Callahan flew up the ice in possession before going behind the Sabres’ net and feeding it in from for an easy wrist shot finish from Stepan. Unfortunately, being shorthanded would be the real story of the game for the Rangers.

New York took five minor penalties in the second period, and Marcus Foligno converted for the Sabres with a beautiful and clever shot just minutes after the Rangers goal. Foligno got a hold of the puck just to the right of the Ranger goal and jammed home a rebound with a between-the-legs shot. The Rangers conceded another goal, a breakaway finish, to Thomas Vanek, who has had a breakout campaign for the middling Sabres.

The Rangers created and skated harder in the third period, outshooting the Sabres 11-0 before Foligno again pounced on a loose puck in front of Henrik Lundqvist’s goalmouth to put the game out of reach.  The air was clearly sucker punched out of the Rangers, who managed little after that.

In Winnipeg on Thursday night the Blueshirts suffered another defeat to the Jets. The Jets scored early through Nik Antropov before Callahan again combined with Stepan, deflecting home a shot from the point in the second period. Antti Miettinen scored his first goal of the season late in the third and Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd got an empty-netter to complete a comprehensive victory for the Jets.

Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik had a chance to equalize in the first period for the Rangers on a penalty shot but lost control of the puck on his way in, symbolic of what has been a very sub-par campaign for last season’s leading scorer.

In a Saturday afternoon matinee in Pittsburgh, the Rangers fell 3-0 to the Penguins, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Penguins had won seven straight games heading into matchup and came out blazing, with rookie Beau Bennett scoring just 90 seconds into the game. The Penguins were dominant in the first, but Henrik Lundqvist kept the Rangers competitive with several key saves.

In the second and third the Rangers came on strong and showed that they can play with a top team, but the game was broken by Tyler Kennedy’s third period power play goal. The penalty was on Anton Stralman, who found himself outmanned after veteran defensemen Roman Hamrlik coughed up the puck at the blueline. Questions have surrounded Hamrlik’s fitness levels as well as his ability to continue playing at an NHL level since the Rangers claimed him off waivers earlier this month.

There were some encouraging signs as the Rangers showed some fight and ability against the Penguins until the unfortunate penalty, but there is no doubt that Rangers faithful have their hand firmly on the panic button after a very bad week. The Rangers have a chance to turn things around quickly Tuesday in Newark against the Devils.