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Rusty Rangers 0-2 To Start Off The Season

Two days, two games, two regulation losses. That’s how the New York Rangers 2013 campaign has begun. After opening the season with a 3-1 loss in Boston, the Rangers looked flat in their home opener, dropping a 6-3 affair to the Penguins on Sunday night. Unlike the game in Boston, the game wasn’t as close as the scored indicated.

It’s not uncommon for two Atlantic Division rivals to start a game with a quick drop of the gloves. Last night was no different. Literally two seconds in to the game, new acquisitions Tanner Glass and Arron Asham went at it. The bout went on for some time, but Glass clearly won the fight. It was an appropriate foreshadowing for the rest of the evening. Pittsburgh jumped out in front at the 1:48 mark with a James Neal power play goal. Eight minutes later, Ryan Callahan answered back with his own power play goal to even things at 1. But that’s as close as the Blueshirts would be for the rest of the night. Tyler Kennedy and Matt Niskanen each lit the lamp for Pittsburgh to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead heading in to the 1st intermission.

The Penguins domination continued in the 2nd period. Pittsburgh did a good job of keeping the puck in the Rangers end for long stretches of the 2nd period. It would pay off at the 9:11 mark, when Pascal Dupuis scored the second Pens power play goal of the night to make it 4-1. James Neal scored his 3rd goal of the season 5:06 in to the 3rd to send many of the Garden faithful to the exits. The Rangers finally generated some offense midway through the 3rd period, as Taylor Pyatt and Rick Nash (shorthanded) each scored their first goals as Rangers. A Kris Letang empty-netter sealed the deal to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 start to the season with both wins coming within the Atlantic Division.

Rusty Rangers 0-2 To Start Off The Season
New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, right, reacts while Pittsburgh Penguins’ Pascal Dupuis, second left, celebrates his goal with teammates Chris Kunitz, left, and Evgeni Malkin during the second period of their NHL hockey game in New York, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. New York Rangers‘ Dan Girardi (5) skates by.
(Photo: Seth Wenig)

If you’re a Rangers fan, while it may be second nature, it’s too soon to start panicking. They’ve looked like a team that’s still finding chemistry among the lines. The lack of a pre-season is no excuse, since every team had to deal with the same situation (although teams with new head coaches get a little bit of slack in that department). In a condensed season, a team can afford to have one slump, but that’s it. If I’m Rangers head coach John Tortorella, I bag skate the entire team tomorrow. Other than Rick Nash (who has displayed the talents he brings to the Rangers in the first two games), everyone looks a step slow. The Blueshirts have two days off before they see the Bruins again (at MSG this time), and then travel down to Philly on Thursday night. Tortorella hasn’t been shy about shaking lines up in the past, and I’d expect to see some changes for that two game stretch. One change could be Chris Kreider, who took a high hit late in the game and was slow to get up.

Adam Bernard
I'm a seasoned veteran in the sports media field and a lifelong Rangers fan (hoping to relive 1994 at some point - I couldn't fully appreciate a championship at 11 years old). Hockey dominates my life for the most part: I also root for the Blackhawks & Kings, I've been lucky enough to split season tickets for the Blueshirts with a good friend since the lockout, and I'm a defenseman on a local roller hockey team. Away from the rink, I enjoy hiking, hard rock music, and spending time with my dog Astro.
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