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After 2nd loss on trip: Scoring woes; 5 on 5, MSL, Miller, Richie

Martin St. Louis of the Rangers skates against

Martin St. Louis of the Rangers skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on March 5, 2014. Credit: Mike Stobe

The Rangers went into the Olympic break 5-1. Since the closing ceremonies in Sochi, the Blueshirts are 3-4-1, with 18 goals in eight games, or 2.25 per.

Without scoring three goals a game, there’s not much margin for errors on D and in goal. In no way can Cam Talbot be blamed for the 2-1 loss on Thursday.

Yeah, if Ryan McDonagh doesn’t hit a post Thursday, maybe that’s a spark, but 14 shots in two periods in Minnesota and 25 overall against Carolina on Tuesday? Not going to cut it.  Need 35-plus for a better chance of having a fortunate bounce.  And by the way, can GM Glen Sather afford to keep J. T. Miller in the AHL much longer?  Uh, hello, the rosters have expanded…

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Production from forwards 5-on-5? Terrible.  In four of the last five games, only one goal has been scored by a forward 5-on-5. The PK is helping to keep things close, having killed three power plays by the Wild for a 22-for-23 run.

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Martin St. Louis will get untracked, but he needs to be moved away from Brad Richards, who is dragging. One goal, three assists in 10 games, and just not quick enough recently on a team that succeeds when playing a fast pace.

I understand that AV is reluctant to break up Brassard and Pouliot, but is it time to drop Richards to the third line with Zuke and Pouliot or Miller, and give Brassard a shot with Kreider and St. Louis?

Toss out the two-goal game for Pouliot in Pittsburgh right before the break and it’s no goals in 11.

And here’s the problem surfacing at center again; there’s no No. 1,  which is why the Rangers need to make a run at Paul Stastny in July, if he’s not signed, because Richards is slowly inching toward that buyout, which, I’ll repeat, should’ve happened last summer.

Consider:

               Hagelin-Stepan-Nash

               Kreider-Brassard-St. Louis

               Miller-Richards-Zuccarello

               Pouliot/Boyle-Moore-Carcillo.

               Dorsett/Haggerty

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Said this before, but Sather came up a little short at trade deadline. Rangers needed third-line size and grit for work along the wall and as a presence in front, someone like Lee Stempniak, didn’t get it.

Instead, he spent a low draft choice on a smallish spare D in Raphael Diaz. With Zuke, St. Louis, Hagelin, upfront size is an issue against heavier teams. Like Boston, for example.  

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Thinking 92 points will squeeze the Rangers into a wild-card berth which means a first-round matchup against either the Bruins or Penguins.  That probably translates to 8-5-2 down the stretch. But they really need points against Winnipeg Friday night and San Jose at home on Sunday.

There will be only 13 games left on Monday and the pressure ratchets up, with eight of that final baker’s dozen away from the Garden.

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