Optimists can say that the Rangers earned a point last night when they were perilously close to getting none, but after an 0–1–1 weekend during which they scored just one goal, it’s getting harder and harder to remain an optimist. As we enter the home stretch of the NHL season, and the Rangers try to scratch and claw their way into a playoff spot, last night’s game will serve as a handy checklist of reasons why they’re in this position in the first place.
Lack of scoring? Check. Ever since the Penguins pulled Marc-Andre Fleury halfway through last Thursday’s game at the Garden, the Rangers have mustered just one goal: Brandon Dubinsky’s tally to tie the score at one with 1:23 remaining in the third period last night. (In between those two events, they played a horrendous third period against Pittsburgh, then got shut out in Washington on Saturday.) Marian Gaborik has yet to score since returning to the lineup.
A bad record in overtime? Check. They dropped to 1–6 in the four-on-four extra period, and while they’re not exactly built for a wide-open style of play — again, last night, they scored by crashing the net — that’s a lot of lost points missed out on because of plays like the one that ended last night’s game, when Patrick Kaleta scored the game winner from behind the net while no fewer than three Rangers stood in the vicinity and watched the puck bank off of Henrik Lundqvist and into the goal.
And, most distressing of all: a bad home record? Check. At 14–15–6 (and we’ll remind you that means they’ve won fourteen times and lost 21 times), the Rangers hold the fourth-worst home record in hockey. Right now, the Rangers find themselves in ninth place in the conference, two points behind Boston (another team with a bad home record). Thanks to the Big East Tournament taking over the Garden, this week brings two road games: a visit to Newark (which is usually more like half a road game, thanks to all the blue in the crowd), and a trip south to face Atlanta, the team currently in tenth place, a point behind the Rangers. Maybe the time away from home will do them some good.