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Rangers On Verge of Missing Postseason

Throughout hockey arenas across the U.S. and Canada, players, coaches and fans are asking why the New York Rangers are not playing the way everyone expected them to.

Prior to the delayed start of the NHL season, plenty of hockey experts were projecting the Rangers to win this year’s Stanley Cup. No one was surprised when people chose the Rangers to win it all as they were coming off a very successful season in which they led the Eastern Conference with 109 points and reached the finals of the conference in the postseason.

New York was able to win with a young core of players who were developing and appeared to get even better during the offseason with the addition of Rick Nash from Columbus, without losing a key offensive or defensive player to free agency.

However, through the teams first 27 games of the season, they are just 13-12-2 and in 10th place in the conference standings three points behind eighth place Carolina for the last of the eight playoff spots.

Simply put, the season ends today and the Rangers go home with no playoffs.

New York has lost three straight games and even though they picked up the offensive minded Nash, the Rangers have scored fewer goals this season per game at 2.33 than last season’s 2.71.

The Nash trade thus far looks as if it cost the Rangers more than they expected. In the deal, the Rangers let go forwards Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky and Tim Erixon a defenseman along with a 2013 first round draft pick. Dubinsky and Anisimov have played well since being traded.

The Rangers two bottom lines have not given them the offense they need and are losing the battle of scoring against most opponents in 5-on-5 situations.

As with many teams during the course of a season, injuries play a factor. The Rangers are no exception to this, but the injuries have exposed the lack of depth the Rangers have. Because of injuries and not enough depth, defenseman Stu Bickel has had to play 10 games as a winger. The team tried to fill in the gaps by picking up free agent veterans such as Roman Hamrlik, but the 38-year old has not been effective in the four games he has played thus far.

In addition, the play of Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik has dropped. For the start of the season, the two forwards combined with Nash made up an imposing line that was considered one of the top five in the league.

However, while Nash played well regardless of who was paired with him, Gaborik and Richards have been lost on the ice for quite some time and have not played up to the expectations of coaches. Richards scored six points in five games to start the season but has only 8 points over the past 20 games.

The Rangers, to start the season, were considered the top team in the Eastern Conference and a favorite to reach the Stanley Cup finals. With just 21 games left on their schedule, the Rangers are risking not even making the postseason. If that were to happen, it would be one of the most surprising misses to a postseason in the NHL in recent memory.

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