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John Kreiser | columnist
Feb 9, 2007, 10:30 AM EST

If the New York Rangers are to make the playoffs again, they’re going to need their two big guns to start firing.

The Rangers ended a seven-year playoff drought last season, largely thanks to the superb work of rookie goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and an All-Star season by right wing Jaromir Jagr, who won the Pearson Trophy and narrowly missed the Hart and Art Ross trophies. They finished with a 100-point season and sixth place in the East.

That might be beyond the Rangers’ grasp this season. New York entered the weekend with 55 points in 54 games, down from 70 at the same time last season. The Rangers are on track to finish with just 84 points, and the biggest reason for the drop is that their two best players of last season aren’t quite as good as they were a year ago.

Lundqvist went 30-12-9 and posted a 2.24 goals-against average last season. He might win 30 games this season, too — but his 21-18-3 record is a big dropoff, as is his 2.73 GAA, nearly half a goal more than last season. Take away Lundqvist’s 5-1 record in shootouts and he’s a sub-.500 goalie.

Jagr injured his shoulder in the playoffs last spring, had off-season surgery and appears at times to be less than 100 percent. He has 20 goals and 64 points in 54 games, 10th in the league scoring race — but a huge drop from last season. He was tops in points for almost the entire season, until Joe Thornton’s late surge dropped him to second. Jagr is on pace to finish with 30 goals and 97 points, a huge drop from last season’s 54 and 123.

The Rangers’ special teams have also dropped off somewhat. They were eighth on the power play (18.9 percent) and 10th on the penalty kill (83.7 percent) in 2005-06, but have dropped to 11th (17.9 percent) when they’re a man up and 16th (82.2 percent) when playing a man down.

One area in which the Rangers still struggle is playing two men down. They allowed a league-high 17 goals while playing 3-on-5 last season, and are last again with 12 allowed this season.

Home games -- The home-ice advantage isn’t as much of an advantage this season. With the season nearing the two-thirds mark, home teams are winning only 54.3 percent of the games (449-287-91), a sharp drop from their 57.4 winning percentage (706-394-130) of last season, the first in which the shootout was used and both teams were guaranteed at least a point when a game was tied at the end of regulation time.

The biggest single reason for the decline is the collapse of the Philadelphia Flyers, who are just 3-15-7 at the Wachovia Center, a huge drop from last season’s 22-13-6 record. Barring a miracle, the Flyers will finish with their worst home record ever. They’ve finished under .500 at home just three times, the last in 1993-94.

True Blue -- It took two goaltenders to do it, but the St. Louis Blues made sure Calgary’s NHL-record no-shutout streak of 264 games would stay safe for a while longer. The Blues’ 1-0 victory over Detroit on Thursday night ended the Red Wings’ streak of scoring at least one goal at 175 games — they hadn’t been blanked since Boston did it on Jan. 7, 2004.

Manny Legace started the game against his former teammates, but had to leave early in the second period when he was crunched by Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom after St. Louis defenseman Bryce Salvador hit Holmstrom. Curtis Sanford came in to complete the first combined shutout by the Blues since Ernie Wakely and Glenn Hall combined for a 2-0 win in Boston on Nov. 5, 1970. The Blues have three wins (two in OT) in seven games against their Central Division rivals this season, but they’ve gotten them without any help from their power play. St. Louis went 0-for-3 on Thursday and is now 0-for-34 against Detroit this season.

Flames doused --

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