It was thought that after being away from the United States for nearly a month, and enduring a seven-game road swing that took them to Western Canada, the New York Rangers needed a trip home to find themselves. It would begin against the Toronto Maple Leafs, many thought. For one period, they did just that. The next two, however, they fell flat, and the Leafs took advantage, handing the Blueshirts a 4-2 loss.
In the first period against Toronto, the Rangers looked like a totally different team from the seven games prior. They were shooting from all angles -- 16 in the period -- they were hitting, skating all over the place, and they were energetic. It was the best period all season. But the only managed one goal, by Dan Girardi, because two were disallowed as the referees determined Ryan Callahan -- on both -- contacted the goalie. What could have been a 3-0 lead, was only a meager 1-goal advantage, and it ultimately did the Rangers in as the game transpired.
New York came out flat in the second and third periods. They mustered seven shots in each period, while allowing 26 more. They lost their energy, with coach John Tortorella admitting they looked "mentally lethargic" and "physically lethargic." Matthew Lombardi knotted the game up at 1, and three more in a row -- by Joffrey Lopul, Clarke MacArthuer and Mike Brown in the third added to the Rangers' misery. Michael Del Zotto scored late in the third for the Rangers to make it 4-2.
This was one of those games where Henrik Lundqvist looked human, letting in a few soft goals along the way, so even he couldn't bail out an offense that's sputtered this season. The offense has managed 16 goals in eight games; not exactly a good indicator of succcess.
Even more disconcerting was the fact that the Rangers could not sustain a high energy level throughout the game -- which was the one you'd expect them to be flying throughout, being their first game on home ice, after all. At this point, it seems the Rangers are a group on different pages, with the talent to be a winning team, but plenty of individuals still trying to find themselves in the early going. That even pertains to Tortorella, who is doing whatever he can to try to find which pieces mesh best together.
New York will look to put together a more complete game against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.