Rangers' power play inept in loss to Montreal
MONTREAL - Hello, Hershey?
The Rangers have been scouting in the Pennsylvania town, but not to search for the tastiest chocolate confection.
Sheldon Souray, the veteran NHL defenseman with the big shot who plays for the Hershey Bears, the Edmonton Oilers' AHL franchise, may be an ingredient that the Rangers' struggling power play needs because the cupboard seems bare.
The deficiencies with the man advantage were most glaring Saturday afternoon when the Rangers lost, 2-0, to the Canadiens, stretching their winless streak to four games, the largest since last season.
The Rangers, trailing 1-0 late, had two chances to tie it with over a minute left. Brian Boyle's shot from the slot was blocked by defenseman Alexandre Picard, and then Sean Avery was stopped from point-blank range by Carey Price after a perfect pass from Brandon Prust.
The two Canadiens goals - one by former Ranger Scott Gomez and an empty-netter with 37.4 seconds left by Tomas Plekanec - and the 35 saves by Price weren't the most significant numbers.
Try 1 and 4.
One shot on goal during four straight power plays in the second period of a scoreless game was all the Rangers could produce, while the Canadiens had three on Martin Biron. The Rangers have three goals in their last 26 power plays. Only six teams are less productive on the power play.
"We don't have a legitimate quarterback," said coach John Tortorella, playing a tune that's beginning to sound like a broken record. The Rangers have experimented with different defensemen and forwards on the points with little success. "I tried Zook [Mats Zuccarello] there, I'm not sure we're going to stay with that. Today, we couldn't make two passes . . . It's execution. It's been a struggle for us for about a month or so."
And although Tortorella said he thought the team played well five-on-five, including 19 shots in the third period, "it means squat. We didn't score . . . your top guys need to make some difference in the game."
Erik Christensen, who returned after missing 16 games with a knee sprain, was inserted between Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik, and didn't have a shot in 10:55. Zuccarello, Derek Stepan and Wojtek Wolski's shot total? Zero.
"We have to start shooting the puck more, we're not getting the job done," Ryan Callahan said. "We're getting down to the home stretch, we've got to start putting some wins together. We all know what the standings are and what has to be done to make sure we make the playoffs."
The Rangers (29-22-4) are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, were five points ahead of Atlanta, and six points ahead of ninth-place Carolina. Atlanta and Carolina played last night.
In the previous three losses, two in regulation and one in a shootout, Tortorella cited sub-par goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist. But this loss couldn't be pinned on Biron (27 saves).
"We played an okay game, but it's February, it needs to be that much better," Biron said. "We're snakebitten a little bit, hit a couple posts, pucks behind the goalie and not in."
With the Feb. 28 trade deadline approaching, the Rangers have cap room for Souray, who would have to be acquired in a trade or through re-entry waivers, or perhaps another blueliner (the Leafs' Tomas Kaberle, the Panthers' Bryan McCabe) who can add some flavor to a dangerously bland power play.