2006-10-20 / Sports

Mistake Prone Rangers Struggle to Right Ship

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

Rangers' goaltender Henrik "King" Lundqvist has been bombarded by opposing shots early on in the season.  Photo by Peter Borriello.Rangers' goaltender Henrik "King" Lundqvist has been bombarded by opposing shots early on in the season. Photo by Peter Borriello. NEW YORK - One thing's for sure, this is not last year's playoff Rangers team.

Seven games into the season, the Blueshirts have not clicked in the way coach Tom Renney would like. They are making too many defensive errors, which are causing chances to the other teams, while visiting the penalty box a little too often for their liking.

It has resulted in a 3-4 record and the Rangers, to say the least, are not happy.

"The players in this locker-room accept the fact those performances [last week] were lackluster for the New York Rangers and we weren't happy with it," said Aaron Ward.

After being pasted on the road in Buffalo last Saturday, 7-4, the Rangers seemed to right the ship after a team meeting on Sunday.

"We had a meeting after the Buffalo game about working harder, but also working smarter," Brendan Shanahan, who scored his league leading seventh goal, said. "We have a lot of hard working guys on the team, but we got away from working together."

Brendan Shanahan has been one of the lone bright spots so far. Photo by Peter Borriello.Brendan Shanahan has been one of the lone bright spots so far. Photo by Peter Borriello. The result was a strong 4-2 win against the Devils on Monday and all was right with the Rangers. During that game, the team skated hard and in good positional play. Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves, while the Blueshirts were opportunistic all night.

It was something Renney was very pleased to see.

"[The team] wants to play good hockey," Renney said. "It does take a real good kick in the backside and we got that in Buffalo. We really knew our opponent and after what happened in Buffalo, we knew we had to prepare. It was just good honest work."

A follow up was to be expected, but the Rangers faltered. They lost 3-0 to the Nashville Predators on a 38 save performance by Tomas Vokoun. Too many times the team couldn't convert on three 5 on 3 power plays, and came up short on every chance. It was the first time they were shutout in regulation at home since January 5, 2004, when the pre-lockout team were downed 5-0 to Calgary.

"We certainly had enough 5 on 3s, but the power play came up dry," Renney said. "We didn't direct enough pucks to the net in traffic and make life a little tougher for them in their end." On the positive side, Shanahan has been the Rangers best player. He not only is he tied for the league lead in goals [7] as of Wednesday, he is playing both ways on the ice. The 37 year-old is killing penalties and also breaking up shorthanded situations for the other team.

"He's doing everything he possibly can," Renney said. "And he's not 17 or 27, he's 10 years older than that. It's great to see, but you like to see them pick up on this. This is great stuff we are seeing. That maybe part of a problem. "We have spectators on the bench watching the top end guys watching them for their ability and in Shanny's case effort. They are watching it."

That may be the problem, but right now there are plenty of theories. All Renney and his team know is that the Rangers need to right the ship soon or they risk a disappointing season.

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