Maybe John Tortorella was more important than anyone thought.
The former crusty coach of the New York Rangers had his flaws, but at least the team played hard. Now under Alain Vigneault, there is no discipline and no identity.
At least not yet. And the 1-3 record shows it.
And the last two 9-2 drubbing on Tuesday in San Jose and last night’s 6-0 shutout in Anaheim show it.
“The execution, making a tape-to-tape pass, has nothing do with systems,” Vigneault said. “Coming through the neutral zone and reading the other team’s pressuring gap and making the play with the puck has nothing to do with the system. These are all things these players have done their whole lives and that I’m confident they can still do.”
The Rangers seem lost. It may be because their training camp took them on the road and then opening the season with 10 games away from the newly renovated Madison Square Garden.
It also could be because Derek Stepan missed camp and now Rich Nash is out with a concussion.
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Very well, but it is getting early fast. It’s not as dire as say, the New York Giants, but something needs to happen.
And they need to start with the simple things.
“We’re obviously trying new things here, a different look,” goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. “But hockey’s about – we talked about it after last game – it’s about all the small details in the game, and if you don’t do that right, it’s going to be a tough game …. If you lose the puck in the wrong areas, it’s going to cost you, and it did today. Probably four of the goals were we just lost the puck in the wrong area, and it’s deadly.”
It’s the first time since December 2006, when Tom Renney was the coach and Jaromir Jagr was the Captain the Rangers gave up 14 or more goals in two consecutive games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. That happened on a back-to-back, Dec. 16 in a 9-2 loss in Toronto, followed by a 6-1 loss the next night to New Jersey. The Rangers’ franchise record for most goals surrendered in consecutive games, according to Elias, is 21, set in 1944 with a 15-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 23, followed by a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 27.
Fortunately the Rangers didn’t match that record last night and they did even out the game. But it was too little too late.
“I thought our effort was a little bit better, still not where it needs to be,” said current captain Ryan Callahan. “It’s disappointing. It definitely is. I expected a little bit more out of the group after what happened in San Jose, and we didn’t get that.”
Fortunately it’s only four games and the Rangers have a chance to turn it around. But they need to do it soon or risk the season falling into an abyss.
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