CALGARY -- Rangers coach Alain Vigneault planned to observe Tuesday night's game against the Oilers in Edmonton from the press box rather than behind the bench.
If the Rangers stumble as they did in a 4-1 loss to the Flames Monday night, the view won't change things.
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Two things, Vigneault said, bothered him the most in a game in which the Rangers fell behind 2-0 on goals by Curtis Glencross and Dennis Wideman, who were open after defensive lapses. "We've got certain reads to make; I don't want to say our guys are fighting it, but it's not coming instinctively. And our execution -- we turned that puck over so many times in the first period -- here were real good players turning the puck over."
The Rangers previously played last Tuesday in Philadelphia, and Vigneault and the players cited the gap.
"I knew coming into this that even though we had four days of intense and hard practices [in Banff]," Vigneault said, "practicing and playing aren't the same thing and it obviously showed in the first period. We were much better in the second as far as our execution.''
Marc Staal, who brought the Rangers to 2-1 with a power play-goal by banging in a bouncing puck at the crease at 16:12 of the second period, said, "It took us a while to find our legs, we were chasing quite a bit. I thought the second and third we had a lot of offensive zone time, creating some havoc in front of the net. We obviously have a whole new system . . . It's not going to come overnight.''
Karri Ramo made 27 saves for the Flames. Henrik Lundqvist allowed three goals on 28 shots, but made several big stops to keep the game close in the first. Lance Bouma scored an empty-netter with 4.6 seconds to play.
"You try not to analyze too much," Lundqvist said after his second preseason game. "I think it's important to get my focus where it needs to be; it was a tough game to play, a lot of quality chances, there were a couple of plays you feel you could have done better . . . I need one more game [before opening the season)." That will come on Thursday in Vancouver. Martin Biron will play in Edmonton.
Notes & quotes: As the contract stalemate with Derek Stepan continued, Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather went on the offensive, telling MSG- TV that the center shouldn't be listening too closely to his agent (Matt Oates). "I don't think Derek's going to let this linger too long. I don't think he's big enough of a fool . . . " The sides are believed to be some $800,000 apart on a proposed two-year deal . . . Michael Del Zotto needed 18 stitches to close a skate cut on his left ear.
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