EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — A day after yet another too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty helped wipe away a two-goal lead and send the Rangers to a crushing 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, David Quinn went back to basics. He spent a portion of his hour-long practice working on rehearsing line changes.
“It’s the same problem,’’ Quinn said before the Rangers hustled to board their charter flight to San Jose for Tuesday’s game against the Sharks. “It’s all been the defensemen — other than the first time, when we had a guy go out to make it 7-on-5 when we had the goalie pulled. Which was a unique situation I’ve never seen before. But the last four have all been ‘D’ changes, and you know, it’s been addressed and it can’t happen. Cannot happen.’’
The Rangers led 2-0 midway through the second period before Cody McLeod was penalized for slashing and the Kings scored to cut the deficit to 2-1. One minute, 18 seconds later, the Rangers were called for too many men on the ice, the second game in a row and sixth time in 11 games they had been penalized for the infraction. Ilya Kovalchuk scored on the ensuing power play to tie the score at 2, and the Kings went on to snap a six-game losing streak.
Halfway through the four-game trip, the Rangers (3-7-1) are 0-2, which includes an awful showing in a 4-1 loss in Chicago last Thursday. The trip ends Thursday in Anaheim.
As he continues to search for a winning formula, Quinn again tinkered with his forward line combinations at practice, this time elevating Vladislav Namestnikov to the top line at left wing with center Mika Zibanejad and right wing Mats Zuccarello. Namestnikov scored the Rangers’ first goal Sunday and assisted on a goal by Tony DeAngelo that gave the Rangers that 2-0 lead.
“His play certainly has warranted it,’’ Quinn said of Namestnikov’s moving up to the No. 1 line. “I think he’s had a good three-week stretch here. He continues to earn his ice time, and not just because he got the goal [Sunday], but I think he’s been a guy that’s played with pace, and had an edge to his game, and he’s been a productive player in this league. And he’s earned the opportunity.’’
“Whenever you play with Mika or Zuc, it’s nice,’’ Namestnikov said. “And we’ll try to find quick chemistry and do some good things out there.’’
Notes & quotes: Quinn said defenseman Adam McQuaid is day-to-day with a lower-body injury but likely won’t play Tuesday. That means DeAngelo will be in the lineup against San Jose. Quinn said he wasn’t sure whether the Rangers would call up a spare defenseman from AHL Hartford . . . Quinn said he plans on getting a start for backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev on the road trip but hadn’t decided if it will be Tuesday or Thursday.