It’s very tough to find a silver lining in the disappointing performance of the Rangers during tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Once again, playing without their star attraction Marian Gaborik as well as Sean Avery and Christopher Higgins (who, let’s face it, were not exactly setting the world on fire with their play as of late anyway), the Rangers offense was a mess and never found a way to mount any consistent pressure against a Minnesota squad that had been struggling but looked like world beaters tonight. The only highlight for the Rangers came from call up Dane Byers, who arrived only 15 minutes prior to the opening puck drop due to travel problems, when he tapped a loose puck past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom for his first goal as a Blueshirt. With the exception of the aforementioned Byers and fellow rookie Artem Anisimov, the Rangers lineup looked completely lost on the ice tonight. The first two Wild tallies were direct results of forwards either forgetting to or coming back late to backcheck in the defensive zone. Henrik Lundqvist was peppered with shots by the Wild and made some tremendous saves to keep his team in the game but the Rangers could not get the puck to the middle of the ice to get the quality scoring chances they would need to win this game. Marc Staal snuck one past Backstrom in the third to make it 3-2 but the Rangers never really threatened again and now find themselves with only one win in their last 6 games. This team hardly resembles the confident squad that reeled off 7 straight victories only a few weeks back. Coach Tortorella has some tough decisions to make if his team continues down this road including whether to give more ice time to players like Byers, Anisimov and P.A. Parenteau who are fighting to make a name for themselves or to rely on veterans who have struggled (Avery, Higgins and Brandon Dubinsky) once they return to the lineup. The smart money says Torts will tow the company line and send the kids back down for “more seasoning” once his higher priced stars come back, hoping that a healthy Gaborik will turn the team around (and it just may) but i for one would like to see the coach finally stand behind his strong warnings and make playing time for the Rangers something you earn, not just something you receive because of the name on your jersey or numbers on your paycheck.
The Rangers will try to snap their string of bad performances Sunday vs. the Bruins at MSG.