The New York Rangers currently sit last in the league with 2.27 goals scored per game.
For a team with offensive talent like Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Rick Nash and Derek Stepan, only scoring 2.27 goals a game is just unacceptable – if not unbelievable. These are not numbers you expected from a team that was within two games of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last season. And certainly not what many envisioned when adding Nash to the Rangers’ roster last summer.
Nash was brought in to be a pure goal scorer, and while he has met every expectation as an individual performer, many hoped he would have elevated others level of gameplay on the ice, like Richards or Gaborik.
Outside of a few players on the roster who have been producing pretty much the whole season, the rest of the team has gone missing. Nash is the Rangers leading scoring with 28 points and just behind him is his top line center Derek Stepan who has contributed 25 points on the season including 10 goals.
After such an explosive offensive season last season of 76 points, Gaborik is sitting at 19 points in 31 games this year which includes only nine goals. To say the expectations were high for Gaborik this season would be an understatement: he was third in the league behind Steven Stamkos and Evgeni Malkin in goal scoring last season. Despite a strong start this season, we’ll be lucky if Gaborik surpasses 12 goals this season.
Last season, Richards finished the season with 66 points, and nine game-winning goals. This season, Richards has 18 points in 31 games, with only five of them being goals. Everyone expected Gaborik, Nash, and Richards to be the top offensive line in the league, but confidence battles and scoring dry spells have left this line as anything but intimidating – save for Nash. It doesn’t help John Tortorella keeps breaking this trio up.
While it’s easy to point the finger at the troubles of the Rangers team this season due to the lockout and no training camp (which Tortorella emphasizes is the difference maker in any season), there simply is no excuse for the Rangers superstars to be underachieving. Teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, and even the surprising Montreal Canadiens are all finding ways to win in a lockout-shortened season.
Perhaps the Rangers organization underestimated the loss of depth players like Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust and John Mitchell all to free agency – then went on to trade Tim Erixon, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov to the Blue Jackets for Rick Nash.
Tortorella remarked that the trade for Nash “you make it 10 out of 10 times”, but it hurt the Rangers depth and intangibles. Outside of Erixon, they were some of the best Ranger depth players this team has known in many years, and they fit into the Tortorella system very well.
This season our offensive depth has been absolutely flat with Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt, Kris Newbury, Arron Asham, and Darroll Powe – all combine for only seven goals.
Pyatt started off very good for the Rangers in the beginning of the season, and seemed like a great fit. But since then, has seen a major decline in his stats and his ice time. Boyle has only one goal this season and has been extremely disappointing in his offensive play, even being a healthy scratch for several games in an attempt by Tortorella to turn his game around. It clearly hasn’t worked. Already in his fourth season with the Rangers, his breakout season in 2010-11 with 21 goals and 14 assists is a distant memory, one we will likely never see again.
Powe has been with the Rangers for 20 games this year so far and is still yet to register a point on the score sheet. He has been most effective on the penalty kill for the Rangers since being acquired from the Wild, but he is not producing on the scoring sheet at all, something the Rangers could really use. Powe had 13 points with the Wild last season.
With the trade deadline being just a few days away, it will be interesting to see what general manager Glen Sather does to help this team out. It is obvious the Rangers are lacking the toughness and grit they lost in the off-season, and with recent trade rumors of Gaborik on the block, we will have to see what he can bring the Rangers in return – if he is actually moved. The Rangers are in desperate need of some grit and scoring abilities on the bottom two lines, especially if they want to make the playoffs this year and make a deep run in the playoffs.