Lifeless Rangers Fall In Pittsburgh

Rick Nash scoring drought continues. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Rick Nash scoring drought continues. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Spike the Gatorade with Red Bull! Hand out Electrolyte Strips from Sports Food! Whatever it takes to not see that effort again. 

Last night the Rangers had a prime opportunity to grab a firm grip on this series. 4 power plays wasted before the Pens eventually broke through on a stellar Lundqvist. NY’s pathetic display of special teams play up a man is going to be their downfall. It certainly was last night.

“The power play ultimately is my responsibility. I have to find the right trigger points to make it work. I’m going to spend the night trying to figure it out,” was Alain Vigneault’s statement after a 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh. The Rangers haven’t scored on the PP since game 2 against the Flyers, two weeks ago. They have now gone 29 straight power plays without a goal. It’s absolutely stunning.

Brad Richards felt Pittsburgh “played a little bit harder” than the Rangers. Sounds like either he was clueless or just being politically correct. The hard truth is the Rangers were going through the motions last night aside from a handful of glorious chances. None bigger than Rick Nash being stoned by Fleury point blank.

The focus by most fans is all on Rick Nash and it’s understandable. He admitted frustration and said “I have to up my game,” to reporters after the loss. However, plenty of Rangers stars have yet to up their play this post season. It’s time now to find that next level against a far more talented team than the Flyers.

As for fixing the one thing that could have saved the Rangers last night, I stress not using the 4th line on the power play. It’s a silly idea to say the least. But maybe deploying Brian Boyle to provide a screen in front could work. Moving Brad Richards to center and Zuccarello or Brassard on the point is another option. Even Marty St. Louis back there would provide a new look and a harder shot.

Bottom line, no personnel changes to the units would have mattered last night because the Rangers refused to work. They were flat and not moving their legs at all on the power play. Simply put, 4 Penguins out hustled 5 Rangers every time.

So, no matter who they put out there tonight or what ingenious plan they deploy, it won’t matter without effort. As the series shifts to Madison Square Garden, the Rangers must drink in the energy of the Garden Faithful. Tonight, the True Blue fans of the Rangers must elevate this team.

GAME 3 STARTS AT 7:30 PM ET.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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