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In Which We Are Reminded That the St. Louis Blues Are in First Place

After last night's 2-0 Rangers loss to the St. Louis Blues — or rather, the "first-place St. Louis Blues," as the Midwesterner we attended the game with insisted on calling them all night — John Tortorella correctly said that the Blues played strong defense, and both Tortorella and Ryan Callahan correctly explained that the Rangers didn't win enough battles along the boards in a game that remained 1-0 until the final seconds.

Martin Biron had played well — which is good news for the long-term plan not to abuse Henrik Lundqvist this year — allowing only a second-period goal by Alexander Steen, who'd later add an empty-netter at 19:56 of the third. But the Rangers would struggle all night to generate offense themselves.

Still, in a low-scoring match-up between two backup goalies — a game in which one goal could have meant a point — the Rangers had their chances to get on the scoreboard. Alex Frolov did indeed slip a puck past Ty Conklin in the first period, but he did so after referee Bill McCreary had already blown the whistle, thinking the puck had been touched with a high stick in the neutral zone by St. Louis's Nikita Nikitin. (It hadn't, but McCreary stopped play after Conklin touched the puck.) And in the third period, Artem Anisimov missed an open net with the chance to tie game during a five-minute Rangers power play.

Ah yes, that power play: For the second game in a row, the Rangers failed to score with a five-minute advantage. Of course, on Friday night, they'd win anyway against a Devils team that's currently just 4-10-1. Last night, though, against those first-place Blues, it took any remaining air out of the Garden.

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Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images