Do you remember the halcyon days of October? All the goals, the excitement about Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey, and waking up with a halo of grease from Papa John's pizza around your mouth? The air was crisp and cool and the Rangers didn't know how to lose hockey games.
But October has been over for a long time now.
The lines are being juggled, Mika Zibanejad is hurt, Kevin Klein is playing like that drunk, grabby guy that I imagine ruins every renaissance faire everywhere and the weather is cold and miserable.
The Rangers are 5-4-1 in their last ten games and the offense that could do no wrong was shut out by Crag Anderson and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night. And tonight the Rangers are going up against one of the most poorly understand hockey teams in the league: the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes will provide a unique test for the Rangers. They are considered by many to be possession darlings but they also have a brutal road record this season.
Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask are the two skaters that the Rangers will need to slow down tonight.
But the real story line to watch is how the offense responds to being shut out for the first time this season after looking like that kid with black fingerless gloves and the frayed jean vest that holds all the high scores at the local arcade. You know, that kid who has that waxy, clammy complexion that is common among those who are battling an infection after piercing their ears and nose with a safety pin they found in a Chuck E. Cheese bathroom.
The Rangers are a tough team to figure out. But two games against the Hurricanes in five days might help to give us a better idea of who they really are.
After tonight's game the Rangers will head upstate to face the Buffalo Sabres before returning to the Garden on Saturday night to meet Skinner and company again.
Enjoy the game. LGR.