Rangers' turnovers on ice, not roster turnover, hurt against Devils
The Rangers' 7-4 loss to the lowly Devils in New Jersey on Tuesday may have been the result of a letdown following a big weekend and a big day on Monday at the trade deadline, but it had nothing to do with any difficulty incorporating three new players into the lineup, coach Gerard Gallant insisted.
“No, no, not at all,’’ Gallant said after the game. “There was a lot of mistakes by our guys . . . we had very few turnovers the first period, played a real, good game, but . . . then all of a sudden we started trying to make plays that weren't available. And then they come at you.
“You play those two big games on the road [Saturday and Sunday against Tampa Bay and Carolina] and you win both those games — and the Carolina game we didn't play well, but we won,’’ he continued. “So it was two big, emotional wins. You come in here against a team that's not in the playoffs. They're a young team. They're a talented team and skilled team. They've had trouble winning games . . . We just weren't mentally sharp from what I saw, and those turnovers turned the game around for them.’’
At the morning skate, all three new Rangers — forwards Adam Copp and Tyler Motte and defenseman Justin Braun— suggested the quickest way to integrate themselves was to just jump right into a game, rather than practice first for a day or two. And Copp earned two assists in his debut, the second coming on a third-period power-play goal by Chris Kreider.
“I thought those guys worked incredibly hard, and hit the ground running,’’ Kreider said of the new additions. “I think, collectively, we just got away from the things that we've done well the last couple of games. We had a good first period and just fell asleep at the wheel, which is unacceptable, and frustrating, considering how well the road trip went up to that point.’’
Gallant also insisted at the morning skate that it isn’t that difficult for players to acclimate to a new team after a trade.
“I think guys get their team chemistry together real quick, and it's not a big deal as some people make it,’’ Gallant said. “We showed them some clips of our system [Tuesday] morning, and they said, 'Yeah, I've done that, been there, same stuff.' So it's not a big adjustment. They'll get to know their teammates a little bit and figure things out with us, and try and figure me out who's coaching on the bench. And I don't think it'll take too long.’’
Gallant will be the one who has to figure the players out. Copp can play all three forward positions and play up or down in the lineup, on the power play or the penalty kill. He started on the third line Tuesday, but when the game got out of hand and Gallant started experimenting, he finished on the top line, with Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Braun, 35, is a righthanded shooter, and Gallant may want to see if he can also play on the left side of the defense. Motte profiles in the bottom-six forwards, but is he a better fit on the third or fourth line?
The Rangers were off Wednesday but will practice Thursday before hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday.