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.
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.