Rangers Recap: One Goal Gets Rangers Nowhere in 4-1 Loss to Blues

Two goals in four games is not going to get you very far in the National Hockey League, and right now the New York Rangers are learning that the hard way. As the offensive woes continue, the Blueshirts fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues tonight in a game in which they continued to struggle to put pucks in the net. In fact, they only had 22 shots on goal, so even the amount of chances has gone down as the week progressed. There is a dearth of goal-scoring on this team and it has become quite obvious. There really is no other reason for the current three-game losing streak other than that.

The Ranges got off to a great start in the game, moving their feet and generating some great scoring chances. The first came when Brandon Dubinsky threw a lofter on goal which rebounded to Ryan Callahan, but the Alternate Captain was robbed by netminder Chris Mason. After that, New York began to get into penalty trouble which would eventually ruin the high-paced offensive start. At 14:07 of the first, the Rangers defense was torn to shreds by the beautiful passing of the Blues when Keith Tkachuk made a spectacular feed to David Perron to set up a one-timed slapper goal. Rookie goalie Chad Johnson had no chance on the play.

About seven minutes into the second stanza, Brian Boyle broke the 172 minute Ranger goal-less streak by putting a backhander off Mason and in. The play was started by the hard forecheck of Aaron Voros, who is looking to find ways to keep himself in the lineup. Voros would be awarded the helper on the tally. That goal stood for the rest of the second period, so the Rangers were heading into yet another game-determining third, but as we know, things didn't quite go their way.

Roman Polak's slapshot from the point deflected off of defenseman Dan Girardi's skate and into the net to give the Blues the advantage just 45 seconds in. A major problem in this game was the fact that the Blueshirts constantly were beaten to pucks in their own zone, and then let a player wheel and deal freely on offense to create plays. That is what happened on this specific goal. Eight minutes later, Alexander Steen somehow came around the net uncontested and rifled a backhander over Johnson's shoulder to make it 3-1. Johnson should have been covering the post to make the save there, no question, but the defense was no better by allowing Steen to skate in like that. There is no excuse there; you have to take the body. Both Ranger defensemen on the play slid looking to block the shot with their stick. And then finally to add insult to injury, David Backes took advantage of an empty-net with 13 seconds left in the game and sealed the deal for St. Louis, making it 4-1.

I thought rookie goaltender Chad Johnson played well in his second National Hockey League start, as he made 21 saves on 24 shots, and two out of the three goals he allowed were almost impossible to prevent from hitting the twine. The Steen goal, however, should have been stopped and that will be something Chad will go over with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire after tonight's tilt. Other than that, Johnson made some solid saves at key times and kept the Rangers in it for a while. Unfortunately, once again, there was no offensive help.

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So many questions but so little time. Right now the Blueshirts coaching staff is clearly unable to find a solution to the lack of goal scoring on this club, and when looking at the schedule, there really is not much time until the real hunt for a playoff spot will begin-if not already. Year after year the New York Rangers cannot score goals, and I believe it may be beyond the coaching staff as this point and should be put on the personnel that take the ice night in and night out. The major players on this team are not putting pucks in the net, and that starts with Marian Gaborik.

Gaborik skated well in the game, but when he had chances to shoot, he either was robbed or the opportunity was somehow disrupted. When Gaborik doesn't score, the team doesn't score. That has been the motto of the Rangers this season. The recent slump of the Slovakian Star brings along a handful of lack luster losses due to limited offense. Head Coach John Tortorella is hoping for him to reignite his chemistry with Vinny Prospal, but that has not been the case since Prospal's return from knee surgery.

Ryan Callahan has not been scoring, Brandon Dubinsky hasn't scored in what seems like ages, and Erik Christensen, as expected, has slowed down as well. No primary contributions and zero secondary scoring equals a recipe for disaster and that is what us fans are enduring right now. Enver Lisin was probably the best forward in this game for the Rangers, along with linemates Artem Anisimov and Sean Avery. These youngsters were skating, moving the puck, as well as getting it to the net. I think Tortorella would be crazy to remove Lisin from the lineup after the way he played tonight.

A lot of this also has to do with decision making. Take the end of the game for example. There is under a minute remaining in regulation, New York is down by two, and Prospal decides he will try and lift the puck over two defensemen to an open Gaborik when Vinny had a wide open shot right in front of his face. There needs to be a shot there as there is no reason to get too cute when you are trailing late in a contest.

The Rangers will fly back to New York tonight to meet the Montreal Canadians for Sunday's 7 p.m. match at Madison Square Garden. This will be a critical game for both teams being that they are only separated by a single point in the standings. Henrik Lundqvist will be back in goal for that one, but he is not the major concern....the offense is and for obvious reasons.