Most people who live in California or have been there on vacation will tell you that it’s tough to get on a plane and leave. The weather is nice, the beaches are gorgeous, and it’s a much more relaxed vibe than other places. After the New York Rangers opened their season with a 4-1 loss in Phoenix, it was off to the Golden State for a three game swing among the California -based NHL teams. Things looked good after a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night. But the events since then have made being pulled aside for a body search by a TSA agent a more desirable experience than watching the Rangers on-ice efforts.
The Rangers left Los Angeles feeling good. After knocking off the Kings in their home-opener, they were off to San Jose. The Sharks were coming off back-to-back 4-1 victories, and looked good, taking a 2-1 lead in to the first intermission. By the end of the 2nd period, Alain Vigneault was likely channeling Roy Scheider from the movie Jaws. Four goals in a 4:16 span in the middle frame, and three more 3rd period goals left the Rangers with an embarrassing 9-2 defeat. Nineteen year-old rookie forward Tomas Hertl had four goals in the game, including this dazzling display in the 3rd period.
From the HP Pavilion, it was off to the Honda Center to wrap-up the left coast portion of the season-opening road trip. Like the Sharks, Anaheim came in to the game riding a two-game winning streak. Unlike Tuesday night, where the Rangers looked competitive during the opening frame, the Ducks jumped on the Blueshirts early. Ryan Getlaf opened the scoring at 5:06, with two more goals scored in the period, with another three goals scored by the Ducks in the 2nd period. Henrik Lundqvist was yanked after the fourth goal in San Jose, but he stayed in for the duration of the six-goal spanking.
It doesn’t look good for the Rangers right now. No teams wants to open a season being outscored 20-6 in a four game span. If you’re a part of the “Sky is Falling” faction of the Ranger fan base, you’re already regretting the hiring of Alain Vigneault. If this was last year’s 48-game condensed/shortened season, I could understand a bit of panic with each game having more weight over the course of the season. But the Rangers are adjusting to drastically different system from the one they played in last season and they’ve been on the road since mid-September. These aren’t excuses, but merely facts that are major contributions towards the sloppy start.
If there is one bright spot during this 1-3-0 start, it has been Brad Richards. No, that’s not a typo. He has three goals on the season in four games. With Rick Nash sidelined for about another week with a concussion, a boost of offense from Richards is something the Rangers desperately need at the moment. The task doesn’t get any tougher with the defensively-minded Blues on tap tonight (Martin Biron will get the start over Lundqvist). The Rangers still have five games road games remaining on the road trip, but they will get to come home for a couple of days after the game against the St. Louis before heading on to Washington for their Wednesday night affair.