One thing nearly every New York Rangers player was talking about during the five-day training camp was that it was important that the team gets off to a good start, as there's only 48 games and early-season points are much more important than they would be in a full season.
Well, things clearly haven't worked out that way for the club.
The Rangers failed to find their footing in their first game against the Boston Bruins last Saturday. An early Carl Hagelin penalty killed the team's early momentum, and from there on the Rangers never seemed to have the chance to implement their forecheck and went down easy by the score of 3-1.
The following night, both fans and head coach John Tortorella were hoping for a rebound in front of a capacity opening-night crowd at Madison Square Garden. But again, a penalty in the first minute of the game allowed their opponents, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to grab the momentum, although this time the Penguins capitalized and put the Rangers behind the eight ball very early.
The rest of the contest was an abomination for the Rangers; the defense collectively did their best pylon impression, and on offense, Rick Nash seemed to be the only one willing to attack the net. The Rangers were again brushed aside by one of the Eastern Conference's top teams, this time by the score of 6-3.
Wednesday night the Rangers were a better team in what was an early-season rematch between the Bruins. They had their feet moving early and were able to keep the puck pinned in the offensive zone during the entire first period. Players who looked out of it in the previous two games seemed engaged, and it seemed for a while there that the Rangers were back.
Until the second period, that is. The defense began to collapse again and turnovers had the team running around in circles in their own zone. As for the offense, if your name wasn't Nash, Richards, Gaborik or Pyatt, you really weren't being effective. Although the team struggled in the latter stages of the game, Gaborik rescued the Rangers in overtime as they defeated the Bruins 4-3.
So, what have these first three games of the season taught us about the Rangers?
Well, there's still quite a bit of work to be done. We know they're capable of being a successful team, because they've shown it at times. Whether their early-season struggles are a byproduct of a shortened camp or not is yet to be seen.
Regardless, here are the three weaknesses the Rangers must address this season if they are to be Cup contenders come spring time.