by Patrick Hoffman on 03/14/13 at 10:36 PM ET
For a team that is fighting to stay in the top eight in the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers sure did not play with any kind of fight tonight in a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg.
It what has been a consistent theme this season for Blueshirts, the Rangers did not generate too many quality scoring chances, allowed too many quality scoring chances to the Jets and looked like they lacked the energy that is needed to win a hockey game.
Furthermore, Rangers' forward Marian Gaborik was denied on a penalty shot by Jets' netminder Ondrej Pavelec in the first period. Gaborik got in too close to Pavelec and ended up losing control of the puck, which was then smothered by Pavelec.
Smothered would be the perfect word to describe what the Rangers' play has been in these last two games. The club cannot find the open holes to generate quality scoring chances, cannot find good shots to get on the power play and then when they do get a scoring chance, they make the opposing netminder look like the next Patrick Roy.
This word would also describe what is happening to some of the team's top players. Guys like Gaborik, Rick Nash, and Brad Richards have been quiet in these last two games and if one of those guys is not scoring, that means trouble for the rest of the Rangers' team.
The only players for the Rangers that seem to show up on a nightly basis and make things happen are team captain Ryan Callahan and starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Callahan scored a goal in the second period to knot the game up at one apiece while Lundqvist stopped 30 of 32 shots.
One has to wonder that in this kind of season with every game being important, why aren't the Rangers coming through? Both Tuesday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres and tonight's game against the Jets were winnable hockey games and instead, the Blueshirts came away empty handed.
Had the Rangers won these two games, that would have meant six straight games heading into Saturday afternoon's huge game against the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh. Instead, they go into Saturday on a two-game losing streak.
With the loss, the team also falls out of the top eight in the conference. While the club still has 22 games left to play, time is going to run out fast and if the Rangers do not change a few things and put in better efforts, they will end up missing the postseason for the second time in the last four seasons.
Now that would be disappointing, wouldn't it?
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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