So, that's probably not the way the New York Rangers wanted to kick off this new season. This start probably wasn't even close to what Rangers fans were expecting considering the level of expectations surrounding this team to start the year. And you know what? That's OK.
Remember something: No team in the NHL this year has had a true training camp. And while that supposedly puts everyone on a level playing field, no team needs a regular training camp as bad as a John Tortorella team. A lot of people have blamed Tortorella for this 0-2 start. I think he deserves some criticism for the team's battle level, but I really do think a lot of the Rangers' main problems have come from this team needing a new competitive games to shake off the rust
Look at things this way, the first two periods of the loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday were about as bad as it will get. The team was out of sync, big-time players (minus Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan) weren't getting the job done and the defense absolutely hung Henrik Lundqvist out to dry multiple times. And the score was still only 4-1 at that point in the game.
Whether you stayed for the third period or not, things did start to click a little down the stretch. Sure, the Penguins were up big, but the Rangers started simplifying their game, making the right passes, moving into the zone and getting to the net. It resulted in the Rangers winning the third period 2-1 (I'm not counting the Penguins empty net goal here) and the team showing a little bit of fight.
After the game Tortorella said maybe his team needed to get whacked around a bit in order to wake up. And I really couldn't agree more. The Rangers lost to the Boston Bruins Saturday, they were embarrassed by the Penguins on Sunday for most of that game.
I mentioned this in the notes from the loss but I'm going to say it here again. Sunday night during the game I tweeted:
Rangers obviously have rust. Good news? This isn't the real Rangers. Bad news? When will the real Rangers come to play?
It's clear the past two games have not been played by the real team. The Rangers really can't play worse than they have. And in the third period -- as I mentioned above -- things did start to get better. The team will use Monday as an off day to recalibrate, and Tortorella should know the buttons to push on Tuesday when they get back. He's a heck of a coach in my opinion and he knows what he's doing.
So let's all take a deep breath and relax. The season isn't even 5% of the way completed yet. Remember how we all felt last year when the Rangers got off to that horrible start? This is the same thing. You just feel more pressure because of the shortened season.
So do they. And you know what would alleviate that pressure? A big win on Wednesday.
But for now let's just start with a great day of practice Tuesday.