New York – New seating bowl. Wider concourses. Same old Rangers.
Yes, hockey is back in the five boros and the Rangers, after a lengthy road trip that took them from Stockholm to Winnipeg, finally get to come to the place they call home.
And with a fresh modern look to boot.
Yet, be it in Sweden, Manitoba or Manhattan, the same Blueshirt team is here and the work in progress, well…didn’t progress tonight.
After a really nice first period, which coach John Tortorella called “the best all season” the Rangers reverted to their old lethargic ways, giving up three third period goals and dropping a 4-2 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I thought we had a pretty good first and some sustained pressure,” said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. “We created some opportunities, as well as got some bodies to the net in the first.
“In the second and third we just weren’t doing that. It was definitely disappointing, especially with all the anticipation. We wanted to start with a win in the new building.”
Maybe it was the two disallowed goals, both of which had Callahan bumping Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson, which would have put the Rangers ahead 3-0 after one, but ultimately made the Blueshirts settle of a 1-0 score on Dan Girardi’s first light of the lamp this season. at 6:23 into the game.
“We did a lot of good things,” said Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson. “We did, fortunately, survive the first period.”
And after surviving, the Leaf’s took the wind out of the Rangers sails just 1:20 into the second when Matthew Lombardi put his second of the year behind Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game.
With that came the end of any energy the Rangers gained from the first period and it was all Leafs for the next 38 or so minutes.
Lundqvist was able to survive a 16 shot Toronto second with the score tied, but then the wheels fell off in the third.
“I think we were lethargic and mentally we were lethargic,” Tortorella said. “You get juiced from coming back home and playing in front of your crowd, But from then on after they score their goal we struggled with our energy and making passes. We did it as a team.”
And that was too much for Lundqvist, who stopped 32 shots this evening, but let three third period goals in before Michael Del Zotto got one back with less than five minutes left in the game.
“i have to look over the game tomorrow and see what I have to adjust,” Lundqvist said. “I felt pretty good and I was surprised by a couple of goals. I wasn’t as sharp as I have to be mentally.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed to start like this at home.”