NEWARK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 23: Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers scores in the first period against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on September 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
You can say a lot of things about the New York Rangers two European games, which concluded last week. There were both positive things to take from the two games and negative things to focus on before the Rangers continue their NHL schedule here in the United States.
But one thing everyone can agree on was that the intensity level wasn't there for a full 60 minutes. Whether that was because the Rangers had basically just concluded a four games in five nights stint, or because the team was jet-lagged from all the travel; it still happened.
Saturday night, however, the New York Rangers take on the New York Islanders. There won't be any travel concerns or worries about fatigue on Saturday. The Rangers have had this entire week off, giving the team plenty of tim to adjust to the timezone and get back in the swing of things.
And while that doesn't guarantee the Rangers coming out swinging for a full 60 minutes, going up against a division rival should.
Join me after the jump for more.
The Rangers have a few things they have been focusing on this week in practice, mainly the power play. The Rangers were an abysmal 0-for-8 with the man advantage, including going 0-for-7 against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Yesterday, John Tortorella ran a power play only practice to start the day, before bringing the rest of the team on for the normal practice session, so the power play is obviously getting a long look.
The Rangers have also had issues scoring, only potting three goals their first two games, which is another aspect Tortorella has been focusing on. He's already moved Derek Stepan up to the top line to play left wing with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. That demotes Brandon Dubinsky to the second line with Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov.
That's not a knock on Dubinsky, who did fine on the first line, I think it was more of an ideology to keep Dubinsky, Callahan and Anisimov together. Stepan also brings a new angle to the top line, as a second playmaker he can easily set up both Richards and Gaborik, who can be prolific finishers themselves. In the end, I think the top two lines become much more dangerous now than they were in Europe.
So back to the Islanders, who are probably looking to prove something themselves by taking down the Rangers. It should be a perfect test for John Tortorella's crew to come out guns blazing. No, it's not a matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers or the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the Islanders are still a hated rival who should bring out the best in the new-look Rangers.