If nothing else, frustration stemming from the New York Rangers' ineptitude on the power play and its proclivity for being a total liability has to be surfacing now. With a 3-2 loss against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night, the Rangers' extended their season-long losing streak to five games, and their downright abysmal power play continues to be the main culprit.
Sean Avery was the recipient of two high-sticking calls (one that drew blood) in the third period -- meaning the last 3:40 of the game -- which included 44 seconds of 5-on-3 and the final 1:15 six-on-four with the Martin Biron pulled -- was spent on the power play, yet New York managed zero shots on goal in that time frame. They had 47 shots on goal in the game, 18 in the third period, one in the three power plays of the third period -- and just four in the course of five power play chances for the game. The man advantage is 3-for-31 over the past eight games and 1-for-40 during the Rangers' last 12 road games.
Besides being on the unfortunate side of two high-sticking penalties, Avery was by far the Rangers' best player on the ice. In his 13:17 of total ice time, he tied for the team lead with Vinny Prospal in shots with six (and he also missed six). Avery was all over the ice, was thrown into a minute of power-play action, constantly won battles along the boards and initiated offense -- no better example of which was shown on a 2-on-1 feed to Brandon Dubinsky in the third period, where Avery passed up a prime shooting opportunity to send a well-placed pass which Dubinsky deposited into the back of the net to cut the Wings' 3-1 lead to just one with 4:05 to play. The Rangers' power play proved to be too dysfunctional for any sort of offense to be generated as the game expired.
Despite the lack of success on the power play, the Rangers' 5-on-5 play was steady tonight, as it has been for most of the year. They created multiple scoring chances at even strength, yet many of the shots at an open net were either blocked, went just wide or fumbled at the doorstep.
After a scoreless first period, Pavel Datsyuk, making his return after a 19-game injury absence, stole the puck from Brian Boyle in the corner and worked his way to the net to eventually score the first goal of the game less than three minutes into the second period.
The third period saw four goals, the first of which came on a Derek Stepan goal via a beautiful diagonal pass from Matt Gilroy to the far post, which Stepan put in the back of the net. Jiri Hudler (two minutes later) and Drew Miller at 14:37 would score for the Red Wings to put the Rangers down two before Dubinsky's marker about a minute later.
Jimmy Howard made 45 saves in net for the Red Wings, and even though Biron received the loss, he made 32 stops and was sturdy in net for the Blueshirts.
The Rangers have not won at Joe Louis Arena since 1999. They head to Atlanta to face the Thrashers on Friday.