Rangers Continue Quest for Solutions

The Rangers were right back at work Tuesday because, well, what other options are there?

A 4-1 loss to San Jose the night before was still fresh in their minds, and their 2-6-2 record through 10 games hung above them like a dark cloud.

“We’re 10 games in right now,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said after practice. “I’ve tried to work players into finding their rhythm, finding their games. There’s no doubt in my mind that their will and their effort is there. But at the end of the day, it’s not good enough.

[AV’s Reaction After Loss to San Jose]

“Without naming any names, I’ve given the ice time out to guys who have performed very well in the past and we’re not getting the results right now. So I’ve got to find solutions. These solutions are internal.”

The cavalry isn’t charging over the hill to help, although the Rangers called up Boo Nieves from Hartford (AHL) before Thursday’s game against winless Arizona at The Garden. But the team’s leaders and its top players are bearing the brunt of responsibility for the slow start.

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“I think it’s our job to make sure everyone stays at an even keel,” said alternate captain Marc Staal. “It’s easy to get down, especially on a night like (Monday) when we were kind of trending in the right direction and took a step back. It’s hard to go through these stretches early in the season when you don’t have any of that success to kind of fall back in (as might be the case) in January or February.

“So we’ve just got to make sure everyone’s working in the right direction. When you go through a stretch like that, you have a tendency to start pulling away from the team game or the system and trying to do too much. We’ve got to make sure we’re doing the right things on the ice and eventually things will start turning for us.”

Vigneault spoke briefly with GM Jeff Gorton before placing Adam Cracknell on waivers and assigning Tony DeAngelo to Hartford Tuesday, and the two were planning to discuss possible call-ups. Henrik Lundqvist (knee), Ryan McDonagh (maintenance) and Chris Kreider (bruised knee) did not practice Tuesday and backup goalie Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal Thursday, Vigneault said.

The coach added that he likes the work ethic and the efficiency at both ends of the rink of the Kevin Hayes line (with Jimmy Vesey and Jesper Fast) and that he’s honing in on the defense pairs after much turmoil there in the early going. He would prefer to use four lines and six defensemen for purposes of tempo and execution.

Staal has settled in on a defense pair with newcomer Kevin Shattenkirk, who has been through stretches like this before, and that the focus was “to just regroup and make sure we stuck with the game plan.

“We just believed in the structure and what’s coached here. I think that’s a hard thing to do when things aren’t going well. You start to go off script and especially (Monday), really at 2-0 we still had a good chance to make it happen and we let it slip away.

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“We believe in each other. There’s no getting down on anyone in here. We’re a team in here and everyone knows that we can pull through this, that we’re going to pull through this. I know it seems like it’s coming down on us from all angles now, but that’s when we have to get tighter in here and make sure we’re sticking together and banding together because I know it’s a bad 10-game stretch, but it’s only 10 games.”

Only 10.

“Everybody here from management to coaches to players, we’re not happy with our record,” Vigneault said. “At the end of the day, I could say ‘We’re playing a lot better than our record’, but our record is 2-6-2 and that’s not good enough.”

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