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NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Preds aim to prove they’re more than talk

Dec 10, 2013, 8:47 AM EDT

New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61), Nashville Predators forward Mike Fisher (12), and Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59), of Switzerland, go down after colliding in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mike Strasinger) AP

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the New York Rangers host the Nashville Predators at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

If there’s one thing these two teams have in common, it’s that their mediocre play this season is frustrating their coaches.

The stuck in neutral Rangers held a players’ only meeting after suffering a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday. What was said? Here’s a better question: Does that even matter?

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“That’s just talk,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told the Bergen Record. “You can talk all you want. You need to have those words become actions on the ice.”

Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz coach seems to be of a similar mindset when it comes to his team’s anemic offensive efforts.

“You can demand work ethic, you can demand execution in terms of structure. But when it comes down to it, it has to be (the player),” Trotz said, according to the Tennessean. “They have to find a way to score a goal, they have to go to the hard areas to score.”

Maybe Vigneault can recycle that quote, given that the Rangers’ have matched Nashville’s average of 2.23 goals per contest.

Where these teams diverge is in the expectations put upon them at the beginning of the season. The Predators entered the 2013-14 campaign with a decent shot of making the playoffs given the presence of the talented, and currently injured, Pekka Rinne. They also have a promising defense led by Shea Weber and complimented by highly-touted rookie Seth Jones.

At the same time, the fact that they have been unable to consistently find the back of the net is not a huge shock and the unexpected rise of the Colorado Avalanche would have made their task of reaching the playoffs difficult under the best of circumstances.

By contrast, the Rangers made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final in 2012 and got to the second round last season. They have an even more highly regarded netminder than Rinne in Henrik Lundqvist, a solid defense, and – at least going into the 2013-14 campaign – a strong offense.

If Nashville falls short of the playoffs, it will be seen as a disappointment. If the Rangers do the same, especially in the comparatively weaker East, it will be a disaster.

First thing’s first though, both of these teams need to end their respective losing streaks. One of these coaches might end the night at least temporarily pacified while the other will continue to wish his team could do more than just talk a good game.

  1. capone888 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Unlike the Knicks, the Rangers have leaders on their team who lead by example. The players will look to Cally after this closed-door meeting to see the example he will set going in to this game. Cally will respond, and the team will follow.

    AV is going to have to shoulder some of this blame; though. The Rangers this year are playing uninspired hockey. This group is basically the same group who went deep in to the playoffs the past two seasons. If it was one or two guy’s not living up to their potentional sure I would blame the players. But it is most of the team, including the King. Sometimes they show up and sometimes they don’t. This points to a coach who doesn’t inspire his players enough to get 110% out of them for 60 minutes per game. He took this group from being a gritty-blue collar working class team, to a team with no identity – that is on him.

    Hopefully whatever Cally said to them behind closed doors will inspire the rest of the team more than what AV has been able to do with them.

    AV is a bad fit for NY. He is unable to light a fire under this team like Torts was able to do. Hopefully Cally will be able to do it for him.

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