VANCOUVER — It’s been a tough time in the Rangers’ locker room the last few weeks. Watching longtime teammates moved at the trade deadline is not easy for the players who are left behind, and losing games as the team commits to rebuilding is no fun.
But the trades that removed Rick Nash, J.T. Miller and captain Ryan McDonagh brought back a couple of new guys who have brought energy and production to a Rangers team that sorely needed it. And after the 6-5 overtime victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday that ended their seven-game losing streak, the Rangers’ locker room was a much happier place than it had been of late.
Vladislav Namestnikov, acquired from Tampa Bay at Monday’s trade deadline along with two prospects and two first-round picks in exchange for McDonagh and Miller, had a goal and an assist in his first game as a Ranger. Ryan Spooner, who arrived Sunday from Boston as part of the return for Nash, set up the winner by John Gilmour at 1:22 of overtime and finished with three assists.
“Both those players, not overly big, but they can make plays,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said after Thursday’s practice.
Spooner, who played Sunday night against Detroit after being traded that morning, has five assists in his first two games, and he said he is playing with something of a chip on his shoulder.
“Yeah, I mean, sometimes when you get traded, it’s not the best thing for you as a player; you kind of feel that you weren’t wanted,’’ he told Newsday after practice Thursday. “If you look at both sides, it’s kind of a business, and just kind of how it is.
“But yeah, I definitely want to go out there and I want to show all the people that I’m a good player, all the fans . . . Again, it’s all about the fact that I just want to help out. That’s all I can do, right? We’ll see how it goes, but it’s been fun so far.’’
Both newcomers have made positive first impressions on their teammates and Vigneault. “There’s obviously, from Ryan, there’s a good skill level; very good skater, likes to have the puck, sees the ice well,’’ Vig neault said. “And he’s very confident with the puck . . . He’s made some good plays and made a real nice play last night on our winning goal.’’
Of course, considering Vancouver is struggling, the Rangers can’t make too much of the win. But no one in the visiting locker room cared about whom they beat or how. “I didn’t smile for months,’’ a grinning Henrik Lundqvist said. “I’m just tired of losing, so I don’t care how we win, as long as we win it. Winning makes everybody smile.’’
Notes & quotes: Vigneault said Lundqvist will start Friday night in Calgary and Alexandar Georgiev will be in net Saturday in Edmonton.