Rangers fans

Rangers fans Credit: Getty

Normally, the Rangers wouldn't even be one-quarter of the way through the season after 17 games. But in this lockout-shortened, 48-game sprint to the playoffs, an 8-7-2 mark means trouble.

Losers of three straight after Saturday night's 3-0 setback in Montreal and with a slew of injured players, the Rangers' road won't be any smoother any time soon.

Winger Rick Nash hasn't played during the current losing skid and was placed on injured reserve Saturday, retroactive to last Sunday, for undisclosed reasons. Defensemen Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh left the game against the Canadiens with injures.

X-rays on Girardi's ankle came back negative for any breaks, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

It's unclear when McDonagh will return after taking a vicious hit from Montreal's Max Pacioretty, who escaped league discipline, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.

The Rangers host Winnipeg Tuesday and Tampa Bay on Thursday, winnable games against the weaker Southeast Division. But to get through even those inconsistent clubs, the Rangers must find the net.

With just five goals in the past four games, scorers such as winger Marian Gaborik have to pick up the slack.

A more effective power play wouldn't hurt, either.

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