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New York Rangers crumbling under lofty expectations

The New York Rangers 3-0 loss to the Penguins on Saturday was just another in a growing list of disappointing defeats for a team that came into the season as Cup favorites.

Justin K. Aller

The New York Rangers had appeared to have turned things around with a four game winning streak the first week of March. Yet the scoring woes have returned with a vengeance and the Rangers now slip further back in the NHL standings, with Saturday's clunker of a loss to Pittsburgh the latest in a 1-4-0 slide.

The Rangers have scored just twice in three games and now sit No. 26 in the NHL with 2.3 goals scored per game. This is a team that has added Brad Richards and Rick Nash in the past two years and entered the season with Stanley Cup aspirations. This was supposed to be the year for the Rangers and instead the team has withered under the weight of some lofty expectations.

"We've got to work through it and try to find our way here," coach John Tortorella said on Saturday. "We just need to stay together as a team. We have good people, we just have to have some good things happen to us, and hopefully we can go that way."

The Rangers coach was not looking for excuses, however.

"We're done talking about the lockout, lack of practice time..." Tortorella said. "Other teams are finding ways to win. We need to find ways."

This is a story that plays out nearly every season in every sport, with a supposedly stacked team incapable of living up the hype that came along with the big changes. The Rangers hype machine has been building for a few years now and this season many picked New York to represent the East in the Cup finals; perhaps faltering along the way is something that should have been expected.

Yet the Rangers coach is right -- other teams are finding ways to win, while the Rangers fight with a lack of confidence and continued scoring woes.

The Rangers certainly have time to figure things out, although that time is running out. New York is now three points out of a playoff spot with a couple of games in hand over teams ahead of them in the standings; hope is certainly not lost.