New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

The New York Rangers beat the Buffalo Sabers by a score of 4-2 last night, but are they trending down at the worst possible time of the year?

By Chris Wengert

You know it wasn’t a great game when your thanking your lucky stars that the New York Rangers made it past the Buffalo Sabers.

While Buffalo is certainly one of the worst teams in the league, head coach Dan Bylsma seems to be doing a good job at keeping his young team motivated, because they out skated the Rangers for most of last night’s tilt.

And that’s the disturbing part for Rangers’ fans, that their team was outworked by yet another team that was “dead in the water” (thanks Torts).

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You could make a strong argument that if it were not for the Eric Staal line, the Rangers could have plummeted back to their December ways by now.

The Rangers are once again relying on goal tending, much like they did in November before the bottom fell out. To add insult to injury, some of the their best players have been ghosts at even strength.

Yes, Derick Brassard has scored a couple of power play goals, but he hasn’t looked strong on his regular line. He has been almost useless defensively, as he can often be seen shying away from hits and blowing coverage.

But Brass does look good on the power play, and in fact the whole unit looks strong right now. They are passing the puck effectively and taking quick shots before their opponent can setup. That’s good stuff, and it needs to continue.

Mats Zuccarello hasn’t looked like his dominant self lately, but he did score another “just throw the puck at the net and see what happens” goal.

Last time I checked there are no points for style in the NHL, but Zucc needs to find his January game before the playoffs.

If anybody was wondering why J.T. Miller was sat during the New York Islander game, just watch his effort on Sam Reinhart‘s goal.

There should never had been a three on one rush, but Miller could have easily negated Reinhart’s positioning if he kept his feet moving.

Instead what we saw was the classic “bend over to look like I’m skating hard” act. Not a good look for a player who enjoyed some quality pine two nights prior.

Anybody who continues to pile it on the Rangers’ defenders hasn’t been watching the forwards the past few games.

The number of Ranger turnovers during the breakout is astounding, and it’s all due to poor passes made by the forwards. But hey, keep piling it on Dan Girardi, Tanner Glass, and Marc Staal right?

For whatever reason the Rangers’ forwards haven’t been skating nearly as hard as they were a week ago, and it shows.

And I’m not buying the “They’ve played a lot of hockey excuse”, because they will be playing the same number of games with short rest in the playoffs.

The one exception is the  third line of Oscar Lindberg, Eric Staal, and Viktor Stalberg, whose hustle and fore check has kept the Rangers’ ship afloat the past couple of games.

Who knows what has happened to Chris Kreider, who was invisible against the Isles and Sabers. Just when I thought he was finding his former self, it looks like he may be regressing to his ineffective ways. Hopefully these games were just a fluke for Kreider.

Another game, another controversial call by the NHL.

Yes, Oscar Lindberg did push goaltender Chad Johnson into the net, which negates the goal. But do some fans actually think there is a conspiracy in the NHL to screw over the Rangers?

While I’m not one to wear a tin foil hat, some of the penalty non-calls against the Rangers were pretty shocking. Derek Stepan‘s little nudge was a penalty, yet Kevin Hayes was blatantly hooked down in plain sight with no call.

How do two referees miss that? Maybe I should buy a tin foil hat…

Antti Raanta was good last night. He bailed the Rangers out on more than a few occasions, especially at the end of the game.

Speaking of fish sticks, the Icelanders won 2-1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, making the Rangers playoff picture even more stressful moving forward.

Pittsburgh, you had one job to do.

Some fans were commenting on the Rangers’ overall play last night, stating that they don’t look like playoff contenders.

While they certainly didn’t last night, remember that the Blueshirts are currently without Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, Marc Staal, and Dylan McIlrath. I know, I know, there are no excuses, bla bla bla.

I’ll going to wait until some of these key players return before I make playoff predictions, because this team could look quite different come April.

NEXT: New York Rangers: The State Of Rangerstown Vol 1.0


I've been a die hard Rangers and Giants fan for as long as I can remember. I enjoy sharing opinions, and hearing from fans that love their teams just as much as I do. Henrik Lundqvist makes all of us look like mere mortals. E-mail me at: