This was supposed to be the part of the season where the Rangers made up lost ground.
So far, though, it hasn’t happened.
The Rangers — in the midst of a franchise record nine-game homestand (the Blueshirts play 20 of 30 at MSG leading up to the Olympic break) — have started with a thud, dropping a 4-3 OT decision to New Jersey on Saturday followed by a dismal 4-1 defeat to Washington on Sunday.
Following the Caps loss, New York held a players-only meeting to try and make sense of its 5-7-1 record at MSG this season. Captain Ryan Callahan said things had to change — starting ASAP.
“We have to respond,” Callahan said, as per the Bergen Record. “It’s not good enough at home. This is a long home stand and now it takes the guys in here to respond and be better. It starts Tuesday night and that’s how we are looking at this.
“We have a challenge in front of us and now we have to answer it.”
The Rangers will host Nashville on Tuesday and know how crucial a victory is. The Rangers head into tonight’s action on the outside of the playoff picture (15-15-1, 31 points) and that has much to do with their poor start to the season — the Blueshirts opened 3-7-0, which included a grueling nine-game road swing while MSG was being renovated.
And that’s what makes this homestand so important. The schedule allows for few opportunities moving forward — New York won’t have anything longer than a four-game home set for the rest of the season — and, when the slate was first released, everybody looked at this stretch as the time when New York would surge forward.
Problem is, it’s just not happening.
“We’re pretty frustrated,” Ryan McDonagh said. “We may think we’re doing some good things out there but it’s not nearly at the consistent level it needs to be in order for us to be a hard team to play against and the team we know we’re capable of being.”
Ray Emery has agreed to join the Ontario Reign on a professional tryout, according to a team release.
The Reign are the minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings.
Emery attended Tampa Bay’s training camp on a PTO, but he was released after the team claimed Kevin Poulin on waivers from the Islanders.
The 33-year-old had a 10-11-7 record with a 3.06 goals-against-average and a .894 save percentage in 31 games with the Flyers last season.
Even with starter Jonathan Quick struggling, it’s hard to envision this move leading to a return to the NHL for Emery.
The Kings have Quick and Jhonas Enroth with the big club, while veteran Peter Budaj was signed to a two-way contract on Friday.
James Reimer will get his first start of the 2015-16 season on Saturday night against Ottawa.
Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock made it clear from the beginning that Jonathan Bernier was going to start on Wednesday against Montreal and Friday in Detroit, while Reimer would get in against the Sens.
“I’ve known this for a long time that (Bernier is) starting and he’s starting on Wednesday and he’s starting on Friday. Reims is starting on Saturday,” Babcock said before the season began.
Things haven’t gone according to plan for Toronto through two games.
Not only have they lost both contests, but Bernier was pulled in yesterday’s 4-0 loss to the Red Wings, and the team has scored only one goal this season.
Reimer, who stopped 12 of 13 shots in just under 40 minutes of action against Detroit, will go up against Craig Anderson.
–Cam Talbot will try to get his first win as an Oiler as they travel to Nashville to take on the Predators. Pekka Rinne will start for the Predators.
–Carey Price and Tuukka Rask will face-off when the Canadiens and Bruins renew hostilities at the TD Garden in Boston.
–Petr Mrazek will be between the pipes when the Red Wings take on the ‘Canes in Carolina. Cam Ward gets the nod for the Hurricanes.
–Keith Kinkaid for the Devils. Braden Holtby makes his first start of the year in the Capitals’ season opener.
–Steve Mason for the Flyers. Roberto Luongo for the Panthers in their opener.
-Columbus hasn’t confirmed who their starter will be in the back half of their home-and-home with the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist will start for New York.
–Jake Allen makes his first start of the regular season for St. Louis. Devan Dubnyk for the Wild.
-The Islanders have yet to confirm their starter for tonight’s game in Chicago. Scott Darling for the ‘Hawks after Corey Crawford helped spoil the party in Brooklyn yesterday.
–Antti Niemi gets the call for Dallas after he blanked the Penguins in his first start. Semyon Varlamov for Colorado.
–Jonas Hiller for Calgary. Ryan Miller for the Canucks.
-The Penguins haven’t confirmed who their starter will be in Arizona tonight. Mike Smith will likely play in back-to-back games after beating the Kings on Friday.
-The Ducks have yet to confirm their starter. Martin Jones will start for San Jose.