ANAHEIM, Calif. - This road trip cannot possibly end soon enough for the Rangers. Four games into the season, they need a compass. They have lost their way.
In their 6-0 loss to the Ducks Thursday night, the overmatched Rangers could not steady a ship that listed badly in a 9-2 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday.
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Instead, the U.S.S. Blueshirt -- trying to navigate without top forward Rick Nash, who was sent back to New York with what presumably is a concussion, and with a shoddy defense -- took on more water in the first period last night. The Ducks outshot the Rangers 17-3 and skated off the ice with a 3-0 lead.
"Our effort was a little better, but not where it needs to be," Ryan Callahan said. "I expected a little more out of the group after the loss in San Jose."
Nash alone couldn't have rescued this struggling group. Maybe Mark Messier and Brian Leetch could have contributed. You have to go back to December 2006 for the last time the Rangers allowed at least 15 goals in consecutive games: a 9-2 loss in Toronto on Dec. 16 and a 6-1 loss to the Devils at Madison Square Garden.
Shaking up lines and defensive pairs -- without the benefit of practice -- didn't help new coach Alain Vigneault's shaky troops, as Henrik Lundqvist was the helpless target again. The Ducks (3-1) scored every way imaginable.
"I don't have an explanation,'' Lundqvist said. "You try just to battle. I can only speak for myself. You try to stay confident, but that's really tough in . . . a situation like this. I have to be better, we have to be better. Let's not point any fingers; we all have to step up."
"We're being tested as a group," Vigneault said. "We're being challenged, and it's up to me as the head coach to get this team to play well, and that's what I'm going to do."
Corey Perry went around Ryan McDonagh on the right side and slid a pass to an uncovered Ryan Getzlaf for a gimme at 5:06. Jakob Silfverberg, who came to the Ducks in the Bobby Ryan deal with Ottawa, finished a passing sequence from Teemu Selanne and Mathieu Perreault at 9:17 with Michael Del Zotto out of position, and Daniel Winnik scored at 11:36 from the right circle on a shot over Lundqvist's right shoulder.
Do the math. That was 12 goals in four periods. And it increased to 13 just 1:27 into the second. Lundqvist skated out to the right circle to poke a puck away to stop a possible breakaway, but Teemu Selanne recovered it. He hit the post with a long shot and Silfverberg's rebound hit the empty net for his second of the game.
Benoit Pouliot's turnover in the defensive zone led to Winnik driving to the left side of net, and he found Selanne ahead of Brad Richards coming into the slot for the fifth goal.
At 16:15, Winnik's pass somehow got through players watching in the crease and Dustin Penner, at the right post, popped the puck in to push the lead to six goals.
All were at even strength, which certainly says something about the five-on-five play of the Rangers, who now must trek to St. Louis to play the impressive Blues before they go home for three days, then face the Capitals on Wednesday.
"Our puck management is not very good right now," Dan Girardi said. "We all know what we're supposed to do in the D-zone . . . We just have to do anything to get the puck out."