The New York Rangers finally returned home to the transformed Madison Square Garden last night, but only to see their struggles continue. They dropped a 2-0 decision to the Montreal Canadiens in a game that despite awful officiating, the Rangers looked lethargic.
Now, the Rangers stand at 3-7 and their season is on the brink of spiraling out of control. Tonight, they head to Long Island to face their archrivals, the New York Islanders. The Islanders acquired sniper Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres for Matt Moulson and two draft picks Sunday night. For Vanek’s first game on the Island, the Islanders most certainly will be looking to make a statement.
The Rangers need to brush off last night’s disappointment and come out tonight with a passionate 60-minute effort. They will recieve a boost as winger Carl Hagelin makes his season debut following offseason shoulder surgery. Although he is not the answer to the Rangers’ offensive woes, they still need to find a way to get two points in the standings.
The Islanders are poised to become the best hockey team in the Tri-state area, and the Rangers are on the brink of irrelevancy. The new one-two punch of Vanek and John Tavares will be revealed at Nassau Coliseum tonight. It is up to the Rangers to figure out a way to neutralize them and grind out a good game. A win not only will give the Rangers yet another confidence boost, but it will keep the surging Islanders humble.
While it is still too early to panic, it is imperative the Rangers make a statement with a win tonight. Otherwise, they will be one step closer to a lost season.
Matt Stillwell is a New York Rangers contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @MattNYR12 for all Rangers news and notes!