by PuckStopsHere on 03/14/09 at 03:13 AM ET
Typically, the lowest scoring team in the NHL is not a very good team, but this year they will probably be a playoff team. The New York Rangers are the lowest scoring team in the league with only 2.38 goals per game. If the season ended now, the Rangers would finish seventh in the East Conference with 78 points. They are part of the race for the final eastern playoff spots and are only one point ahead of the currently non-playoff Florida Panthers.
In order to be in the playoff race despite being the NHL’s lowest scoring league, the Rangers must be pretty good at keeping the puck out of their net. Their 2.65 goals against per game is sixth in the NHL. This is due to a good goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist, who has had a solid season. This is due to a good defence which is made up of several proven talents in Michal Rozsival, Paul Mara, Wade Redden, Marc Staal and the recently added Derek Morris. This is due to a good defensive system brought in by ex-coach Tom Renney. All of these are reasons that the Rangers have a good defence, but none of them make it great, and given their lack of goal scoring it makes the overall team not particularly impressive.
Offence is a problem for the New York Rangers. Nikolai Zherdev leads the team with 51 points. This is a low total for a team scoring leader; only the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers leading scorers have fewer points. There is nobody that the Rangers can rely upon to score in an important situation. They have several players who would provide scoring depth on a top team (Zherdev, Scott Gomez, Markus Naslund, Chris Drury and the recently acquired Nik Antropov) but no true frontline scoring talent. This is why the Rangers will not likely get very far in the playoffs.
Scoring goals is a very important part of winning in hockey. Nobody scores fewer goals than the New York Rangers. It is almost a miracle that a team with that big a weakness could wind up in the playoffs. The Rangers may be a playoff team, but they are almost certainly first round fodder. They need to have a better offence to get any further.
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