ANAHEIM, Calif. - When the Rangers were in Southern California last June, they stayed at the luxurious Shutters resort on the beach in Santa Monica, rode bikes on off days and basked in the glow of playing in the Stanley Cup Final.
This week, it's more akin to a business trip. Sure, there was some time poolside, but with back-to-back games against the Ducks and Kings, the Rangers basically stayed inland, away from the surf, and after last night's game, went directly to downtown Los Angeles to bed down near the Staples Center.
On Wednesday, there was no full morning skate, just a continuation of meetings and video sessions at the hotel and Honda Center, which began Tuesday after practice.
Before the team left Honda Center, Derek Stepan, already showered and dressed, summoned Martin St. Louis and Chris Kreider, still in uniform. "Line meeting," he said. "Gotta be quick. We've got 13 minutes before the bus."
There was little time to prepare for Thursday night's battle with the Kings, whom they last saw raising the Cup and celebrating their Game 5 win.
The Kings are 14-4-3 at Staples Center but have not dominated recently. With virtually the same roster as last season, the defending champs are 19-12-9, including 4-2-4 in the last 10 games.
Captain Ryan McDonagh, who debuted with the Rangers four years ago on Jan. 7, brought a three-game point streak into Wednesday night's game and was leading the team's defensemen in scoring with three goals and 11 assists in only 25 games . . . Dan Girardi passed fellow defenseman Dave Maloney for 19th place in career games with the Rangers at 606. Girardi downplayed the accomplishment and joked: "I think there's going to be a picture of us with him handing me a plaque."