Blue Notes

Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.

Rangers' evolution off to tough start

Carl Hagelin skates during training camp at MSG

Carl Hagelin skates during training camp at MSG Training Center. (Sept. 12, 2013) (Credit: Mike Stobe)

Yes, it's three games into a season with a new coaching staff and a new system.

Struggles were expected. Three of the top six forwards missed training camp and one won't be back until the home opener, around Halloween.

The schedule is ghastly due to the renovations at the Garden. Nine roadies to begin.

And now there's a question about Rick Nash's health after the high hit from Brad Stuart that snapped back his head, drawing a three-game suspension.

Nothing's in synch.

Panic, meet button?

Well, we can say this: The roster won't be the same in November. 

Carl Hagelin, for one, will be back. Not that he's a savior, but he'll add speed and forechecking. J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider, you would think, will be up from Hartford to add some legs and grit. 

There will be waivers, and maybe a trade, as GM Glen Sather and head coach Alain Vigneault work through the rough spots.

No excuses, though, that was a mess, a rudderless breakdown in San Jose, as I mentioned on the radio as a guest of Don LaGreca during that first intermission. Could've been 4-1 instead of 2-1 after 20.

But the Sharks are in mid-season form. The Rangers seem as if they haven't exited the pre-season, although they earned the win against the Kings, despite the Jon Quick gaffe.

That's why the dropoff was so startling. 

I've said that if the Rangers get four points out of this challenging five-game Western swing, it's a plus.

Yeah, it's early, but the Blueshirts need to steady the ship with win, or at least a point, against the Ducks on Thursday.  Because the Blues, who are a Stanley Cup contender, await on Saturday.

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