Erasing bad memories, players say, is essential in a long NHL season. What's forgettable? A stoppable goal, a terrible shift, a bad penalty.
With a victory over the Ducks at home Monday night, the Rangers can eliminate something larger: the sour taste of a 6-0 hammering in Anaheim on Oct. 10 during a brutal season-opening road trip.
In that game, the Ducks' home opener, all the goals were scored in the first two periods, including a pair by Jakob Silfverberg, the second of which came on a gamble by Henrik Lundqvist.
Just 1:24 into the second period and already down 3-0, Lundqvist skated past the left circle to chase a loose puck but couldn't clear it. Teemu Selanne's shot at the empty net clanged the right post and the puck caromed to Silfverberg, who scored easily.
The current circumstances aren't quite the same: Silfverberg (broken hand) and Selanne (facial injury) are sidelined, and the Ducks are concluding an eight-game road trip.
The Ducks (11-3-1), however, haven't missed a beat, going 4-0-1 in the last five. They have 50 goals in 15 games, so a strong defensive effort by the Rangers, who did not practice Sunday, is a must.
None of the Rangers' last three opponents is as potent as the Ducks, but Lundqvist and the Blueshirts have changed direction. They have won three straight at home, raised their record to 6-7 and gained some confidence.
Lundqvist has allowed only three goals in his last three starts, and the Rangers have four young forwards who didn't play in the blowout. Carl Hagelin was on injured reserve and Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Brandon Mashinter were in Hartford.
The four who played in Anaheim and who are not available are Ryan Callahan (thumb), Dominic Moore (oblique) and Arron Asham and Jesper Fast, who are playing for Hartford. Rick Nash (concussion) did not play in the first game and will not be available Monday night.
Still, for every Ranger, this game will be a way to determine, at least in part, how far they have come from the West Coast trip.
Grabbing two points from the Ducks would match two four-game winning streaks -- in early March and April -- from last season. Not only that, but a win would pull them into a tie with Washington for third place in the Metropolitan Division and leave the Rangers only two points out of a fifth-place tie in the Eastern Conference.
It's still early, but players believe the arrow is pointing up.
"We've definitely been playing better offensively," said Hagelin, who scored twice in Saturday night's 5-1 victory over the Hurricanes. "Starting against Detroit [a 3-2 overtime win Oct. 26], we're just getting to pucks and there's a lot of one-on-one battles we're winning. That's where we're creating so many chances and getting so many shots on net."