Last night, the Rangers lost their 2013-2014 opener in Phoenix. It was neither pretty nor particularly encouraging. Sure, there were some bright spots; Brad Richards showed signs of life, Marc Staal looked great and the defense as a whole looked much more active in the offensive zone.
Since the pre-season started, the staff here at BSB has been preaching patience. There has been a ton of upheaval even though there was very little roster turnover from last year’s team. Not only has there been the difficulty of a coaching change and all new systems implementation, but the Blueshirts start the season on a 9-game road trip.
Derek Stepan got a late start on camp due to his contract situation and two top-6 forwards in Callahan and Hagelin are out to start the season; not to mention the disappointing camp from Chris Kreider.
Add all of this to the fact that Alain Vigneault needed training camp to get a look at the organizational depth and youth options to fill in for the injured veterans, piled on top of a completely new system from the one the core of the team has been familiar with for the past four years.
When I set out to write this post, I was still lamenting the loss from last night. I wanted to mentally go through what factors were really in play to start the season, and even though all of these circumstances have been analyzed individually over the course of the off-season, I had never stopped to really look at the cumulative effect. Just the coaching/culture change alone would take some time to adjust to before everything synced up.
Add in the road trip, injuries and overstuffed pre-season roster, and it would be a damn impressive feat for the Rangers to get off to a scorching-hot start. Dave has spoken at length about giving this team 10-12 games before really becoming concerned about defensive zone breakdowns and lack of on-ice cohesion. I think this is good rule of thumb for any team with significant changes, but I think it holds extra true for this year’s Rangers.
This is a good team who I believe will be successful this season. It’s going to take some time, there are going to be bumps in the road. Let’s try to keep the proper perspective and start looking for signs that this crew is coming together. Patience is a virtue. Especially to start this year.