by Patrick Hoffman on 01/31/13 at 10:41 PM ET
That is exactly the way the New York Rangers played tonight in their 3-0 shutout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.
The Blueshirts failed to get many quality scoring chances, put too many pucks into the mid-section or right into Penguins' netminder Tomas Vokoun, ran into bad luck with hitting goal posts and struggled on the power play. The team also did not get any offense from their big guns in Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, and when that happens, the Rangers will lose more often than not like they did tonight.
Rangers' netminder Henrik Lundqvist (26 saves) certainly did what he could to keep his team in the game. Unfortunately for Lundqvist, his teammates did not do the same in return.
It was clear that the Rangers' missed the efforts of their injured team captain Ryan Callahan. While the Rangers were not terrible, they lacked the energy and spark that Callahan provides on every single shift.
For the Rangers the lack of the above mentioned qualities spells disaster. The team had trouble keeping the puck in the offensive zone, did not do a good job of getting the puck deep and did not forecheck the way they need to in order to win a hockey game.
In turn, the Penguins were able to capitalize on the Rangers' shortcomings. When Penguins' all-world forward Evgeni Malkin scored the first goal of the game early in the first period, it felt like the Rangers were already out of the game and it was not even two minutes old.
After getting to 3-3 with a win on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, tonight was the perfect opportunity for the Rangers' to make some headway in what is already a very tight Atlantic Division. Tonight's tilt was also important for the Rangers because both the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils played each other tonight (Islanders won 5-4 in overtime), which means another game went by without the Rangers picking up any points.
The Blueshirts will be back in action on Saturday night when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Unlike last season, the Lightning are a much better hockey club this year that has a lot of offense and some stability in net with Anders Lindback.
Another performance like tonight and the Rangers might once again find themselves multiple games under .500.
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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.