New York Rangers’ Struggles Raising Question Marks

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

By Kristin Tullo (@K_Tullo)

The struggling New York Rangers have slipped to 11th in the Eastern Conference after dropping their last four games, gaining just three points in their last five competitions. With plenty of blame to go around, aside from Captain Ryan Callahan who has continued to be the heart and soul of a team incapable of playing inspired hockey for 60 minutes, did the New York Rangers try to fix something that wasn’t even broken by trading away depth to gain more top line power?

After finishing as the top seed in the East last season and making it to the Conference Final in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Rangers did as the Rangers do by trading Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Rick Nash. Nash was seen as “the missing piece” and the guy that would put them over the edge, having many people believing this would the team to beat once the season finally began. Now with three all-star caliber forwards in Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Rick Nash, the Blueshirts are the lowest scoring team in the conference with only four teams worse throughout the entire league.

For the last four games, Nash has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury,speculated to be a head injury after being leveled into the glass by Boston’s Milan Lucic on February 12th. Without him, the Rangers are winless, going 0-3-1 and scoring just six goals during that time. The lack of scoring through their last week is easier to swallow if you blame the absence of Nash, but with just three goals coming off of his stick so far , it’s a tough story to sell.

The last several years has been the same old story for the Rangers, this one not being the exception. Pulling in some of the biggest names on the market or in Nash’s case, trading for the most talked about player, yet not winning a Stanley Cup since 1994 and missing the playoffs eight times since then. Perhaps it’s time for the New York Rangers to change their strategy.

With Nash on their roster, the Rangers lack the secondary scoring and depth they were getting from Anisimov and Dubinsky who combined, scored 70 points last season and also provided more grit than they have seen this year.  Lead by rookie J.T. Miller who scored two goals since joining the Rangers earlier this month, the bottom six forwards that played in last night’s loss to Winnipeg combine for three goals and have been abysmal for the Rangers all season.

There is still enough time for the Rangers to turn it around and become the contender everyone expects them to be,as they sit among four other teams just a point or two out of a playoff spot. Regardless of what happens, one thing is for certain so far; the New York Rangers last year without Rick Nash were a much better team than the New York Rangers without Rick Nash in their lineup, this year.  If we have learned anything over the year from Glen Sather, it is that sometimes you don’t have to have the best to be the best. He just seems to be a slow learner.

You can follow Kristin Tullo on Twitter @K_Tullo or e-mail her at KristinTullo@gmail.com

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