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the ship be sinking

These Low-Scoring Rangers Losses Are Starting to Blend Together

When Michael Del Zotto returned from the penalty box after serving a double minor — the second two minutes of which were for an avoidable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that led to Nashville's game-winning goal — John Tortorella yelled at him like we've never seen him yell at a player before (which is saying something). Even Tortorella didn't hold a grudge for long: After telling Del Zotto to take a seat at the end of the bench, he was right back on the ice for the start of the third period. If we were Tortorella, though, Del Zotto would be the least of our concerns.

Mental errors from rookies are to be expected, and really, Del Zotto and his fellow newbies haven't been guilty of that many of them this year. Instead, the problems in last night's 2–1 loss to Nashville were the same as they've been all season: lapses by the defense (which was sometimes bailed out by Henrik Lundqvist), not enough offense, and nobody willing or able to step up and take control of the game. Tortorella said it best himself, after the Rangers applied some pressure in the third period but still came up short: "I'm tired of talking about chances. We need to score." At least last night, with Marian Gaborik sidelined with a lacerated thigh, they had an excuse.

These low-scoring losses have started to blend together, but last night's will stand out for one reason at least: With an announced attendance of just 13,128 (thanks to the blizzard happening outside), the Rangers home sellout streak ended at 187 games. At least that meant fewer people had to watch this one.

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Photo: Kathy Willens/AP