Chris Drury’s former team is going through the worst losing streak in franchise history. His new one hasn’t played much better lately.
When Drury signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the Rangers on July 1, that move figured to strengthen New York while weakening the Sabres.
Only the latter, though, has been realized.
Buffalo (19-18-6), which enters this matchup having lost a club-record nine straight, won’t come close to the franchise record it matched with 113 points last season. The Rangers (21-20-5) are arguably the league’s most disappointing team, having lost six of seven to fall into last place in the Atlantic Division.
This is the first meeting between these teams since the Sabres eliminated the Rangers in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Drury scored the biggest goal of the series with 8 seconds left in regulation in Game 5, preventing New York from taking a 3-2 series lead.
Drury has fallen short of expectations with 12 goals in 46 games for New York after he had 23 at that point last season.
Despite adding Drury and All-Star center Scott Gomez to a team which already had 600-goal scorers Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan, the Rangers ranked 28th in the league with 109 goals scored entering play Tuesday night. Jagr is on pace to score less than 30 goals for the first time since his 1990-91 rookie season.
After ending a five-game losing streak in their previous game, the Rangers lost 4-1 at Pittsburgh on Monday despite registering 44 shots.
“You can have some tough luck around the other team’s net and not score and be snake-bitten,” coach Tom Renney said. “I feel we weren’t destined for one tonight.”
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist hasn’t been sharp lately, going 1-4-1 with a 3.32 goals-against average in his last six starts.
As expected, the departures of Drury and Daniel Briere have hit the Sabres hard. Only four teams in the league have fewer points than Buffalo (44), which has not won since Dec. 22.
The Sabres have scored 124 goals in 43 games, a huge drop-off from last season when they finished with a league-best 308.
That lack of offense has become more apparent during the nine-game skid, their longest stretch without a victory since a 12-game winless streak during the 2002-03 season. They have scored 15 goals in their last nine contests.
“We’re playing good hockey,” goaltender Ryan Miller said. “We’re not just going through the motions. We haven’t been getting the victories.”
A pair of first-period goals by Daniel Paille wasn’t enough Saturday as Buffalo squandered a two-goal lead and lost 3-2 in a shootout to visiting New Jersey.
Injuries to several key players also have hindered the Sabres. Missing from the lineup Saturday were forwards Derek Roy (shoulder), Tim Connolly (groin) and Maxim Afinogenov (groin), and defenseman Jaroslav Spacek (back spasms).
Afinogenov and Connolly aren’t expected to play Wednesday while Roy and Spacek are day-to-day.
“It is definitely frustrating. You want to be there and you want to help the team,” Afinogenov told the Sabres’ official Web site.
The Sabres won all four regular-season games against the Rangers in 2006-07, and have at least one point in the last 11 meetings (9-0-2).