Opportunity Knocks for Rangers

“Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.”

Okay, James Lane Allen’s famous quote might be a tad dramatic for this latest rough spot in the Rangersschedule.

But seasons are patches of tests – failures and successes – and character is constantly tested.

For most of the last half dozen years or so, the Rangers have often revealed their character in situations such as these. They have bounced back when challenged, they have gotten through hard times with successes. They most certainly did it this season already, after starting 1-5-2 and 3-7-2.

So here comes another test, another revelation opportunity for the Rangers’ character.

[Watch Rangers-Kings Friday on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]

They endured a pair of consecutive losses – one in a home-ice shootout against Dallas in which the point they got was more than they deserved, and one in Ottawa where they got exactly what they deserved, which was nothing.

They were worse against Dallas. Their effort and performance frustrated coach Alain Vigneault.

His post game presser began and ended quickly and thusly:

“I don’t think anyone in our dressing room doesn’t know that other than (goalie Ondrej Pavelec), we didn’t play real well tonight. There are two positives, Pavs played unreal, and because of his performance, we were able to get a point. Other than that we weren’t good.”

The Ottawa game was different in that it was execution that ultimately executed the Rangers. Everybody knows how Ottawa plays – and the Senators hadn’t been playing very well at all, with one win in their previous 13 games.

Nobody knows it more than the Rangers, who were able to beat Ottawa’s frustrating neutral-zone clogging in the playoffs last spring, only to then beat themselves late in games. They lost the series in six games, in which the Rangers were arguably the better team in five, or at least four.

Beating that type of team is a matter of will over skill, and the Rangers’ will was not of a team committed to making the simple, smart play through the neutral zone, nor a team ready to play behind the opponent’s defense. That is to say, with a dump-and-chase that isn’t pretty, against a team that wants you to try to make plays and turn over pucks.

So the Rangers know what they’ve done wrong in these two games. They know how to fix things – except perhaps for a struggling power play (3-for-34) that badly misses injured Mika Zibanejad’s right-handed shot – and they again get that opportunity to follow a slippery patch with a good one.

They play back-to-back games here, against their 2014 nemesis, the Los Angeles Kings at The Garden Friday night, and in Boston for an evening (5 p.m.) game Saturday. Two tough games against big teams, followed by another when Anaheim visits Tuesday.

Zibanejad appears to be getting closer to returning, though he won’t play this weekend. But he can’t be expected to wave a magic wand. This is a team-wide challenge, top to bottom, with or without the No. 1 center.

After skating Monday for the first time since suffering a concussion, Mika Zibanejad talks about how he felt to be back out the ice and how his he's progressing from the injury.

The Rangers need to combine the two facets that were missing against Dallas (effort) and Ottawa (execution).

This core group of Rangers usually does bounce back from stretches such as these.

Opportunity, in the form of yet another character test, is knocking again.

[Watch Rangers-Kings Friday on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]