I said it on the message boards heading into this game. The Boston Bruins were about the single worst possible draw for the Rangers heading into this opening game.
Why? It’s pretty simple. They’ve iced basically the same exact team for the past 3 seasons. They know how to play together. They know where to be, where to go, how to play as a unit, and how their system works. You could see it all night long. Boards were taken away, rotations were flawless. The Bruins put on a systems clinic. And yet, they looked wholly beatable out there. We generated some excellent chances. What happens if Gaborik buries the empty netter? What happens if that shot goes in instead of hitting the crossbar? Of course you could say the same thing for the Bruins, but my point stands. The Rangers, despite how horribly rusty they looked, despite how god awful Carl Hagelin looking out there, despite how horrendous our rotations were all night long, despite how frequently we got caught on changes, despite how many terrible penalties we took…were still very much in this game. This was a winnable game.
Take solace in that guys and gals. We looked horrendous, and still could have easily beaten one of the 3 best teams in our division. The Rangers could easily have played their worst game of the season against one of the best teams in hockey, who were playing about as great as they can, and still could have won.
I know the knee-jerk reaction is to freak out. OMG Gabby didn’t score! NOOO Nash didn’t put the puck in?! Chill. The first 5 games of this season, just ignore them. We could lose all of them and I wouldn’t freak out. This season, for the Rangers, will be 43 games long. Not 48. If we got about .500 in the first 5 games, I’ll be thrilled.
Why? Because integrating a player like Nash, and icing 4 lines that have not played a single minute of game action hockey EVER together, can be a daunting task. If there was a preseason and a full camp, I’d be a lot more pissed, as it is, I “understand” what happened tonight. Quite frankly I saw it coming a mile away.
Don’t worry, it’s our preseason. If we’re still playing like crap 10 games into the season, then start to worry.