St. Louis trying to fight through slump


GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- There was disappointment in Martin St. Louis’ voice when he spoke Monday about his recent scoring slump, but not panic.

The 38-year-old forward, acquired by the New York Rangers at the trade deadline in a blockbuster deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning, is still searching for his first goal as a Blueshirt. The defending Art Ross Trophy winner has registered two assists since arriving on Broadway but hasn’t been able to find the back of the net himself.

In Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks, he did not even have a shot on goal or an attempted shot on the score sheet.

“Am I playing great? No,” St. Louis said following Monday’s practice at the team’s training center in Westchester. “But I’ve played way worse than this.”

Granted, St. Louis created plenty of offense with linemates Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard on Sunday, including two quality chances he set up that were snagged by Sharks netminder Antti Niemi in Niemi’s brilliant 41-save shutout performance.

“If Marty is the player that he is, it’s because he finds a way to get on the score sheet on a regular basis,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Right now we’re working with him to get that part of his game.”

Vigneault said he was also “convinced” that if one of those “Grade-A” scoring chances had gone in for St. Louis’ line, the three would have played much differently as the game progressed.

St. Louis’ new locale isn’t entirely foreign. He has a house in Connecticut where he trains in the offseason, and he has good buddy/former teammate Brad Richards with him to help ease the acclimation process. But St. Louis is still adjusting to the Rangers’ style of play and the team’s personnel.

He can’t expect that he’ll instantly forge the type of chemistry he developed in Tampa Bay, where he played for more than 12 seasons.

“I’ve been in one place for so long, a lot of players read and react a little better off me, and same for me,” he said. “I have 20 new teammates that have seen me play and played against me, but it’s a lot different feel than playing together. That takes time.”

This, of course, is magnified by the fact the Rangers have dropped three of their last four games and have ceded ground in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bluehshirts have fallen out of the top three teams in the Metropolitan Division and are currently holding the last wild-card spot in the East.

So pressure naturally falls to a guy like St. Louis, who has amassed 369 goals in the course of a career that has spanned more than 1,000 games. He’s expected to produce, and he knows that.

“To me, there’s no bigger pressure than I put on myself,” St. Louis said. “I knew it was going to be hard. There’s no time to feel sorry about it. I just have to man up and be a big boy about it.”

St. Louis is not alone either. Rick Nash, who also came to New York in a heralded deal two summers ago, has been held without a goal in five straight games. Nash has always been a streaky goal scorer, but he’s discouraged about his lack of production at such a critical time.

“It’s a team game. We’re trying to win points as a team,” Nash said. “If you’re not scoring, you have to help out some other way.”