Two years ago the Rangers went on their first prolonged road trip to start the season as Madison Square Garden underwent renovations. The Blueshirts played their first two games in Europe, which they lost in overtime to the Kings and in a shootout to the Ducks. New York had a week off before falling to the Islanders – then the club flew to western Canada for games against Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and finally Winnipeg.
New York came out of the trip with a modest 3-2-2 record, but then dropped its first two games on home ice to Toronto and Ottawa. Six losses in the first nine games was an ugly way to kick off the 2011-2012 campaign for a team with playoff aspirations, and many of the Blueshirt faithful were in full-fledged panic mode.
Of course, after the loss to Ottawa, the Rangers peeled off seven straight wins and only lost more than two games in a row once more the rest of the season en route to 109 points and the Eastern Conference title.
The point: don’t panic if New York struggles out of the gate on its nine-game road trip this season. Not only will six of those games come against 2013 playoff teams, but the Rangers will be adapting to a new coach and will likely be without key wingers Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan.
It’s hardly set up to be a recipe for success, but as 2011-2012 showed us, a rocky start may not mean much. In the end we may look at the October spent flying across North America as critical for team-building and a necessary rallying point for the 2013-2014 Blueshirts.