UNIONDALE, NY – The Rangers weren’t supposed to start this way.
This year’s team was supposed to be different. It was supposed to be disciplined, smart and took advantage of opportunities.
It was supposed to come together by playing October on the road, while the Garden gets transformed.
It was supposed to be the most complete team Glen Sather put together in his 12-year rule.
But after three games, the Blueshirts are still looking for their first win of the season and during their unofficial home opener at Nassau Coliseum, the Rangers looked like a team without direction, taking eight penalties, leading to two power play goals by John Tavares and an Islander 4-2 win over their rivals.
“There (are) no excuses here,” said an upset John Tortorella. “We lost a hockey game. That team played better than us, they were more disciplined than us. I don’t want to hear about Europe, I don’t want to hear about if it’s a penalty or not a penalty. We’re not disciplined enough, and Europe has nothing to do with tonight’s game.”
Tortorella would never use the European road trip as an excuse, even if the Rangers flew the red-eye in from Sweden this morning, rather than last week. The fact of the matter is the Blueshirts didn’t play with smart in this game, giving the Islanders a chance to take control of the match.
And with talented players like the 2009 first overall pick in the draft leading the way, the Isles were able to capitalize on the Broadway sloppiness.
“There were a couple of times where we kind of took over the game, but unfortunately we took a few penalties and it kind of killed that momentum that we had,” said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who stpped 30 of 33 shots tonight. “We have to work even harder to be more disciplined out there.”
And they have to play smarter. With many of the penalties being interference, delay of game, and too many men on the ice calls, the Rangers wounds were self-inflicted and probably could have been avoided.
Even though it looked like Brian Boyle was shifting the puck between his hands in the second period, he was down on the ice too long and got a delay of game penalty called on him. That led to a 5-on-3 with Ryan Callahan in the box with a goaltender interference call.
It was too much as Tavares took advantage at 11:47 to give the Isles the lead again.
And Dan Girardi taking an interference call in the third gave the Isles assistant captain the game winner.
Tavares then topped it off with an empty netter to get the hat trick.
This is not to say the Isles didn’t play a good game. They did and Tavares is looking like an All-Star in his third season. Yet, the Rangers are a team with good talent, which addressed its deficiencies this off-season, so they can move past the first round of the playoffs.
Tonight, they didn’t look like a playoff team. Sure, it’s only three game into the season, but if they continue to play sloppy, this season can get long very quick, especially with the next four game on the road in Western Canada.
They weren’t supposed to start this way.