2006-12-29 / Sports

A Really Unhappy Holiday For Dismal Looking Rangers

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist looks skyward for an answer for their six game losing streak. Photo by Peter Borriello.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist looks skyward for an answer for their six game losing streak. Photo by Peter Borriello. UNIONDALE, NY - The end of December should be a festive time for everyone. With the holidays, it’s a time for family and a period for reflection of the year that was.

It’s not time for six game losing streaks.

But that is what the New York Rangers face after they dropped a 2-0 decision on Long Island to their rivals out east.

“We will right the ship,” said defenseman Aaron Ward “It’s unfortunate that we have to use that same comment. We will endure this, much like we didn’t get too high winning in Dallas. We won’t get to the point where we are too catastrophically upset.”

They may be taking it in stride, but after winning five games in a row, the Rangers have found different ways to lose in the past week and a half. They have been blown out twice, lost two third period leads and also dropped two games to the Islanders.

It’s enough to have any one Ranger scratch his head. “It‘s one thing if you are packing it in,” coach Tom Renney said. “But it’s another if you are working and trying to get things done. I haven’t seen the team quit and there is some solace in that.”

Renney is right that the effort is there and the Rangers had an unusual injury bug in the past week, which saw both Henrik Lundqvist and Michael Nylander miss time because of the flu and defenseman Marek Malik out due to a groin injury. Yet, all teams go through injuries, so someone needs to step up.

The coach has juggled the lines, with Jason Ward moving to the top line with Jaromir Jagr and Nylander, while Martin Straka moved down to play with Brendan Shanahan and Matt Cullen. But that didn’t help against the Isles. Rick DiPietro is making a habit of tossing zeros up at Nassau Coliseum with his third one in a row - tying an Islander record - coming against the Blueshirts. The Rangers did play well enough to win, but sometimes that’s just not enough.

“We played well, but they played really good too,” said Lundqvist, who was tremendous with 36 saves against the Isles. “They are a solid team right now and improved a lot since last year. That brings some fans back. It’s too bad we couldn’t win, but they did play a good game.”

Part of the reason the Rangers are finding it difficult is the cooling down of both Jagr and Shanahan. Teams are learning how to defend both and during the five game winning streak, other scorers like Straka and Cullen were stepping up, but now that secondary scoring is not there.

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