MusingsState of the Rangers

Don’t panic if the Rangers struggle on their season-opening road trip

Nine straight road games to start the season are probably not the ideal way to start for Alain Vigneault

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.

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  • Not sure I will panic, but it is more about watching the players and Alain’s tactics. I want to see if he panics. I want to see how he and the team react to a 5-1 drubbing or a 2-1 overtime win, The new era has begun and I really want to see how he interacts with the players. I also will be watching Brad Richards to see if he has any jump left.

  • Kevin

    You took the thought right out of my mind when you said this would be a critical team building experience.

    I suspect we will get off to a slow start, for all the reasons you mentioned, but it will help us down the road when the games become bigger at the end of the season, we will get more at home. Also, with Hags, and Callie due to be out early, we get to see what the kids can do, and this could be some very valuable experience for them to gain.

    This season should be much better than last. Some of the moves will work out well, down the middle with Brass, and Moore. The team will be quicker than last season on the blue line with a young Moore getting more ice time. The return of Marc on the D will make us tough to score on. Our defense will be deeper than last year, our top nine forwards will be more skilled, I just feel good about this season. In closing, if they start slow, so be it, this team will do very well this year!!!!

  • No panic here; am anticipating a rocky start and first half for the club, due to key player injuries; new coaching system and, frankly, lack of faith in our new coach.

    There are already reports of AV advocating for a large re-shuffling of personnel to bring in his type of players. By end of season, a majority of fans will conclude AV is not up for this job and tea, and Sather blew his opportunity for a cup with the existing core group of players. He will resign and it will be advertised as health considerations, but the beginning of the end for this group of core players has begun.

    No panic here, just a realist.

  • Yes I was referring to the report out of Eklund.

    Say what you will, however, if you think AV is not looking to re-construct his personnel to suit his style and approach to the game, you are kidding yourself.

    Mark my words: by end of season, possibly before the trade deadline, fans will be screaming for the heads of Sather and AV. Sather is well past his own shelf life and AV had an abundance of talent at Vancouver and fell woefully short — he is an average coach.

    Now, you can try and deflect from these issues by talking about how unreliable Eklund is, and miss the point that a new coach with a vastly different style than what this group of players is suited for, is about to undertake a large personnel shakeup.

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