New York Rangers Sinking Fast After Rout by Islanders

Matthew CalamiaCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2011

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 31:  The New York Islanders celebrate a goal by P.A. Parenteau #15 of the New York Islanders against Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers at 14:34 of the second period at the Nassau Coliseum on March 31, 2011 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

About a week ago, I wrote a piece that said the Rangers were getting hot at all the right times.

And they were. They strung off a stretch of 8-1-1 and were four points behind fourth-place Tampa Bay and seven points up on ninth-place Carolina.

What a difference 36 hours makes.

The Rangers have dropped two straight to the Buffalo Sabres, whom they're fighting for a playoff spot with, and the lowly New York Islanders, scoring just two goals between the two contests. Both times they made AHL goaltenders look like a late-'90s Dominic Hasek.

During their strong stretch, they were scoring at will, putting up six and seven goals a game. Obviously that wasn't going to late, but they have since forgotten how to put pucks into nets. They've totaled five goals their last five games and their power play has been anemic, going 0-for-20 the last handful of games, including 0-for-7 Thursday against the Islanders.

No one in the organization seems to have an answer. The common "for whatever reason, we didn't play well tonight" mantra has to end. Coach John Tortorella didn't even address the media following his team's embarrassing performance on the Island.

I was a strong believer that this team was a group of overachievers, and I still do. Does that mean I still don't think they can make the playoffs? Although it looks bleak, the ball is still in their court. Their final four games—three at home—are all against teams that have nothing to play for. Both the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins have clinched playoff berths and the New Jersey Devils and Atlanta Thrashers are just counting down the days until tee time.

Brian Boyle said after the game that he was "embarrassed," and rightfully so. This team has become so complacent on relying on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who has started an astounding 22 straight games, to win games single-handedly, and it starting to catch up to the should-be Vezina Trophy winner.

Again, this team isn't dead by any means. They still only trail the sixth-place Canadiens by two points, but it is hard to get behind this team. For a squad that has based so much on their resiliency and never-give-up effort, they've shown nothing the last two games.

It's hard to get behind this team if they're not getting behind themselves.

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