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With six games left on road trip, Rangers could use bounceback in Anaheim

Oct 10, 2013, 12:44 PM EDT

Sharks score Getty Images

Tuesday’s embarrassing performance in San Jose has the Rangers seeking redemption tonight in Anaheim against the Ducks.

But which New York team will we see? The one that got torched, 9-2, by the Sharks and allowed a 19-year-old rookie to score four? Or, the one that beat a good Kings team, 3-1, the night before in Los Angeles?

“(It’s) tough to understand at this point how we can play so well (Monday) night and play like this tonight,” Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said after the San Jose debacle. “We’ve got 48 hours before the next game, and we’ll come up with some answers.”

Vigneault had better hope so, because it doesn’t get easier any time soon. Counting tonight, the Rangers still have six games remaining on their nine-game, season-opening road trip as Madison Square Garden undergoes renovations. After Anaheim, there are visits to St. Louis, Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Detroit.

Writes the New York Post’s Larry Brooks:

Three games. A minute sample size. A counter-productive training camp schedule. An unorthodox schedule to open the season. A pair of key players not yet in game shape.

We get it.

And yet, the 9-2 humiliation in San Jose on Tuesday that represented one of the worst beatdowns in recent franchise history means the clock is ticking on this team and this season.

Already.

And on top of all that, the Rangers may not have top forward Rick Nash in the lineup versus the Ducks as a result of Tuesday’s Brad Stuart hit that the NHL deemed was worthy of a three-game suspension.

Again, it’s only been three games. Teams have bounced back from early-season stinkers before. In fact, when Vigneault was head coach in Vancouver, the Canucks lost 6-2 in Minnesota and 7-1 at home to Chicago early in 2010-11, which was the same season they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

But sometimes teams don’t recover from tough starts. And with the Rangers’ schedule being what it is, they could easily return to MSG well back of the leaders in the Metropolitan Division.

  1. stepanup - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Wow. We’re 1-2 on a brutal Western conference roadtrip. Hank tends to start slow. We’re learning a new system. Stepan is just getting into game shape after the holdout. The top 6 is in flux with Callahan, Hagelin, and now Nash being injured. Step away from the ledge. If the Rangers can get through this stretch of 9 games with 9 points, I’m happy.

    • stepanup - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      If the Rangers rebound and win in Anaheim tonight, then they’re 2-2 starting @ PHX, LA, SJ, and Anaheim, and then the tune is completely different because can anyone ask for more than 2-2 in that stretch? Nope. Now that my blood pressure has regulated, how about a Nash gametime status update, Jason.

      • stepanup - Oct 10, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        Per Nick Cotsonika and DailyFaceoff.com:

        Nash who left Tuesday’s game after an elbow to the head is expected to miss seven to 10 days.
        The Rangers have not announced that he has a concussion, but with his history of concussions; it is likely. Continue to monitor his status as more information is released. Brad Stuart was suspended three games as a result of the hit he delivered.

    • stakex - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      I’m not ready to bury the Rangers (or AV) yet, but I think being overly optimistic isn’t the best course either.

      Yes, there are some serious obstacles the Rangers have to overcome to start the season. A couple seasons ago they had the a similar situation, ended up going 3-3-3, and came back to win the East. So its far too early to panic…

      That doesn’t change the fact that there are very worrying signs. Its one thing to have a bad game… but the Rangers played one of the worst games an NHL team has played in a long time the other night. They had no jump. No fight. To desire to not be embarrassed. If the Rangers quit on Torts… they never showed up for AV. Also, they looked just as bad against the Coyotes and weren’t great against a Kings team that had a bad night themselves.

      A lot of the issues that were blamed on Torts, such as a terrible power play and awful puck possession were on full display in the pre-season and the first three games. I think its becoming clearer that the problem wasn’t the coach, but a lack of non-grinding skill. Again, lets give them 20 games to see how it goes. Don’t expect a major turn around though… if it happens, great. If not it shouldn’t be a shock. I just don’t think the Rangers currently have a roster capable of playing the more offensive minded system AV is attempting.

      • stepanup - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        I agree with all of your statements, and I wasn’t trying to come off as being overly optimistic because I was skeptical of AV as a fit for this roster from Day 1. However, I don’t think we’re as bad as we were against the Coyotes, or as bad as we were against the Sharks. Are we challenging the Bruins, Red Wings or Penguins this year as a top team in the East because AV’s system is our savior? I wouldnt think so, no. Are we an above average team? With the goaltending and defense we’ll get night in and night out, yes.

  2. xdj511 - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    DOOM. Oh wait, that was the Yankees.

  3. matt14gg - Oct 10, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Excuse me, but who the hell thought it was a good idea to make a team start its season with a nine game road trip? I’m not a Rangers fan, but that’s just stupid. No team should be made to do that. Can anyone help me with this? Is there a specific reason they couldn’t use MSG for the first three weeks of the season? The league really sucks when it comes to the schedule. Usually it’s when teams have long layoffs, but this is even more ridiculous.

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