A couple of weeks ago, we posed the question of whether the Rangers’ offense — one that, on paper, didn’t appear to be much better than last year’s woeful attack — could actually be not merely good, but dominant. They were among the league leaders in goals scored, and were particularly dominant late in games. They had the sniper they’ve been waiting for since Jaromir Jagr left town, and their power play was finally an asset. But that was a month ago. They’ve now won just four of their last thirteen games, and worse yet, revived some bad habits in last night’s loss to the Caps.
For the first time this season, we heard someone in the blue seats use the old “they should just decline the penalty” joke, in reference to the team’s dull power play. That’s because, unlike early in the season when they were able to get pucks to the net, the power play last night seemed content to pass the puck around the perimeter and settle for a shot from the point that would invariably get blocked. (Their one goal with the man advantage came when rookie P.A. Parenteau took the puck hard to the net, creating a rebound for Marian Gaborik to drive home. Parenteau clearly has a lot to learn about how things are done here.)
Partially thanks to injuries to Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky, this is becoming a two-line team, and maybe even a one-line team. (After top-liners Gaborik and Vinny Prospal, only one forward on the active roster, Ales Kotalik, has more than eight points. And we’re 21 games into the season now.) We’re not yet concerned that the offense will be their downfall; we’re busy directing most of our concern toward Michal Rozsival. And they are still tied for fifth in the league in goals. But one reliable scoring line is no way to win games.