Rangers recover, rally past Islanders

October, 29, 2013

NEW YORK -- Let’s not go calling the Rangers an offensive juggernaut just yet, but the Blueshirts recovered from a blanking Monday night to notch a trio of goals and edge the Islanders 3-2 in a come-from-behind win Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.

And if Tuesday’s match was a glimpse into what the team can do with a somewhat-healthy roster, there is still hope for the team to live up to its preseason expectations.

The return of Carl Hagelin proved vital to a Rangers squad toiling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The 25-year-old winger, who missed the first ten games of the season with a shoulder injury, gave New York a totally different speed element than they had to start the year.

He created turnovers, chased down pucks and helped generate offense in his season debut, skating on a line with veteran center Brad Richards and Benoit Pouliot.

“He’s just so good [at] forcing turnovers, obviously, but down low -- that was just his first night -- but we had so much more zone time down low and beneath the hashmarks and controlling it because he’s so good at darting into the holes,” Richards said. “It’s good for me, too, to have him back ... it was fun.”

Hagelin assisted on Pouliot’s game-winner with 6:14 to play in the third period and was happy to contribute after a long couple of weeks on the long-term injured reserve list.

“It’s so exciting to get back,” Hagelin said. “[I] had good energy. We were able to create some chances for the team and I’m just glad we got the 'W.'"

[+] EnlargeBenoit Pouliot
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesBenoit Pouliot, left, netted the game-winning goal in the Rangers' 3-2 victory over the Isles on Tuesday.
It wasn’t just Hagelin’s line that was productive for the Rangers. The troupe of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello set the tone in the first period, swarming goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and hemming the Islanders into their own end.

Giving the Rangers their first power-play goal of the night, Kreider corralled a puck with his back to the net, spun and swept it past Nabokov for a 1-0 lead at 12:30.

Kreider’s reaction was a mixture of elation and relief when he tallied his first goal of the season. The jubilant celebration was a stark contrast from the dejected sigh he offered Monday night when recalling an open net that he failed to score on after being robbed by Peter Budaj.

“Those are the ones you always remember, and I think you’re better for it,” Kreider said, smiling now in his postgame comments. “I’m not going to get discouraged about that.”

The Rangers’ execution on the power play was also a marked improvement. Thwarted on all five opportunities in Monday night’s frustration fest versus Budaj and the Habs, the unit went 2-for-4 Tuesday. Their second power-play marker, which came on a blast from defenseman Ryan McDonagh, erased a 2-1 Islanders lead to knot the score 4:59 into the first period.

What was the difference from one night prior?

“Execution,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “They executed. They wanted the puck. They shot the puck. They were a lot crisper.”

It was Vigneault’s choice to give the nod to backup netminder Cam Talbot -- providing starter Henrik Lundqvist the night off rather than have him play in back-to-back games -- and the 26-year-old again proved himself capable.

Talbot, who has won two of his three starts this season, stopped 22 of 24 shots.

The two points gained in Tuesday’s visit to Long Island were critical considering the Rangers' position heading into the match. A mere point ahead of the beleaguered Buffalo Sabres before Tuesday’s win, the Rangers moved to 13th place in the Eastern Conference. More importantly, they are now only three points back from a playoff spot with a game in hand.

“It’s good for everyone. After last night, we came in here, ready to play and that’s exactly what we did,” Pouliot said.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Islanders 2

October, 29, 2013
What it means: Blanked for the third time this season Tuesday night, the Rangers finally found some offense in their first match of the season against the division rival New York Islanders. The Blueshirts rallied from a 2-1 deficit to top the Isles 3-2 at Nassau Coliseum thanks to Benoit Pouliot's game-winner in the third period. The outburst doubled the team’s goals per game average and provided them with a critical two points. The Rangers improved to 4-7-0 while the Islanders fell below .500 at 4-5-3 in what was supposed to be Thomas Vanek's grand debut as an Islander.

Kreider breaks through: Kreider’s boisterous goal celebration was a stark contrast from the scene one night prior, when he could only shake his head at the open net he saw before being robbed by Habs netminder Peter Budaj in the team’s 2-0 shutout loss to Montreal. Kreider corralled a rebound, spun and swept the puck past Evgeni Nabokov for a 1-0 Rangers lead and his first goal of the season.

Some good looks: The best chances the Rangers had Tuesday night were generated from Kreider’s line. Along with linemates Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello, the trio used their speed to pressure the Islanders’ defense and generate some quality looks against Nabokov.

Charged up: Stopped in five power-play opportunities Monday night, the Rangers’ specialty teams unit showed signs of life Tuesday. The Blueshirts tallied twice with the man advantage; Ryan McDonagh’s third-period blast tied the game at 2 at 4:59.

Another injury: Just as the Rangers get Carl Hagelin back from a shoulder injury, they lost another forward in Tuesday’s match. Veteran center Dominic Moore, also a key cog for the team’s penalty-killing unit, left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. Moore played 4:23 in the first period. The Rangers are already hobbled with injuries to captain Ryan Callahan (thumb) and Rick Nash (concussion). Neither player is expected to return soon.

New kids on the block: Though it was supposed to be Vanek’s night as the two-time, 40-goal scorer made his Islanders debut, it was another pair of newcomers who notched the first pair of goals against the Rangers. Cal Clutterbuck scored his first as an Islander, beating Cam Talbot top shelf off a right-wing rush in the second period. Fellow offseason acquisition Peter Regin was credited with the team’s second-period goal with less than a minute in the frame, though it actually bounced off Talbot’s glove and then Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi.

W2W4: Islanders vs. Rangers

October, 29, 2013
At a glance: Tuesday marks newly acquired Thomas Vanek's first game as a New York Islander and the two-time 40-goal scorer will be thrown right into the fire with a rivalry clash against the New York Rangers. The Rangers head to Nassau Coliseum having been blanked by the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night -- the third shutout loss of the season for the Rangers. Neither the Islanders nor the Rangers have enjoyed the start they expected. GM Garth Snow made a splash Sunday night, shipping core member Matt Moulson and two picks to Buffalo in exchange for Vanek as an attempt to shake things up for his middling club. The Rangers' return home to Madison Square Garden on Monday did not yield the results they hoped, either. The anemic loss dropped them to 3-7-0 on the season, which leaves them in 15th place in the Eastern Conference just one point ahead of the lowly Buffalo Sabres.

Vanek debut: Less than two days after being traded from Buffalo, Vanek will wear a different team's sweater for the first time in his NHL career. Isles fans are keen to see what sort of chemistry he can forge with superstar center John Tavares, who lost his longtime linemate in the Moulson deal. The success of the deal will likely hinge on whether Vanek, a pending unrestricted free agent, decides to re-sign with the Islanders, so the campaign to sell him on the merits of his new club begins Tuesday. The pressure's on for Vanek, too, considering that his counterpart in the trade was impressive in his Sabres debut. Moulson scored two goals in Buffalo's 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars.

Help on the way: The Rangers are in dire need of some help considering their injury-plagued lineup and it appears they will get that Tuesday, when Carl Hagelin is eligible to come off the long-term injured list. Hagelin, who had surgery on his left shoulder this summer, adds offensive skill and a much-needed speed dimension to a Rangers squad struggling for offense. The Rangers are last in the league with a mere 1.50 goals per game.

A look at the numbers: Now that each team has 10 or more games under their belts, let's take a gander at some advanced stats that could be telling. According to HockeyAnalysis.com, the Rangers' middling Corsi percentage -- 49.0 percent -- and Fenwick percentage -- 48.6 percent -- suggests that they might not be as bad as their record implies. Their PDO, a stat designed to predict regression (and the opposite), also indicates they could be on the upswing. Meanwhile, the Islanders are in the bottom four teams for both Corsi and Fenwick rating, despite the fact that they have the better record at 4-4-3.

Talbot in net: Rangers backup goaltender Cam Talbot is slated to get the start Tuesday, according to the reports from Tuesday's morning skates. That means Rangers coach Alain Vigneault opted to give starter Henrik Lundqvist -- who returned Monday after missing two games with an unspecified injury -- the night off as opposed to using him in back-to-back nights.

Hagelin nearing return to Rangers

October, 29, 2013
NEW YORK -- The Rangers are sending Jesper Fast down to the minors, a good indication that Carl Hagelin is ready to return from the long-term injured reserve.

Hagelin, who missed the first ten games of the season while rehabbing his surgically-repaired shoulder, is eligible to come off LTIR on Tuesday, when the Rangers face the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

Though Rangers coach Alain Vigneault didn't commit to Hagelin's return after Monday's 2-0 shutout loss to Montreal, he did admit that the young Swedish winger brings them a "speed dimension" that can help bolster an anemic Rangers offense.

Controversial calls can't excuse Rangers' O

October, 29, 2013

NEW YORK -- The Rangers cannot afford to employ excuses in the wake of the 2-0 blanking they suffered at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens in Monday’s home opener at Madison Square Garden. Their offensive response was, again, lacking as the team fell to 3-7-0 on the season.

The Blueshirts have been blanked on three consecutive occasions by the Habs dating to last season. And while Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj was superb in stopping all 27 shots he faced, the Rangers need to focus on finishing.

As it stands, they are in 15th place in the Eastern Conference with a mere six points, just one more than the downtrodden Buffalo Sabres. The Rangers are dead last in the league with a paltry 1.50 goals per game.

And that can’t be explained away with one night of tough calls.

But there were some legitimate gripes to be made about the officiating in New York's latest loss. To be fair, Montreal could’ve blasted the refs for some suspect calls, too.

[+] EnlargeBrian Boyle
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsBrian Boyle's roughing call allowed the Habs to take a 1-0 advantage over the Rangers in the second.
With the Rangers on the losing side of the ledger, however, a second-period roughing call on Brian Boyle proved the most costly. Though officials seemed to think the hulking forward caught Brendan Gallagher up high with an elbow, a replay showed no such contact.

With Boyle in the penalty box, the Habs made easy work of the Rangers’ penalty kill, executing a surgical passing sequence that left goaltender Henrik Lundqvist all alone as Tomas Plekanec deked him and backhanded the puck home with 3 minutes, 26 seconds to play in the frame.

“From his angle it looked like I probably hit him in the head,” Boyle said of the official's view of the incident with Gallagher. “That was pretty low to the ice and it’s unfortunate that we get scored on, but again, there’s plenty of time for us to generate offense and score ourselves and we didn’t do it.”

In the third, the Rangers went on the power play with the chance to tie the game, only the man advantage was negated 21 seconds in when Chris Kreider was whistled for an interference penalty that had fans practically screaming for blood.

Kreider was trying to hold the blue line as two Habs defenders, skating backward, got tangled up with each other and toppled to the ice. Kreider made incidental contact, but it was enough for the official to send him off for two minutes.

He talked to the officials after the call. The explanation he received?

“When they’re backing up, it’s their ice. I can see them coming so I need to make some effort to move out of the way,” Kreider explained. “I guess it’s on me to see where they are.

“There might have been some calls we didn’t like, but there are always going to be calls we don’t like,” he added.

And to top off the night, the Rangers were in the midst of a late-game attempt to knot the score and push it into overtime when the officials upheld a video review of Alex Galchenyuk's goal with 2:51 left in regulation.

The initial call on the ice, a good goal, stood after review of the play. Lundqvist strongly disagreed.

“If that’s not a kick, I don’t know what a kick is,” he fumed. “Seriously, there needs to be some sort of consistency in the calls.”

The Rangers won’t get far if they blame the stripes moving forward, though. The team’s offensive effort needs improvement, and soon.

“We need to find a way to get a couple in,” said defenseman and alternate captain Marc Staal. “You can’t win a game without scoring any goals.”

Hank gives Rangers a chance in return

October, 28, 2013
NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made his return in Monday night’s home opener and played well, but got no support from his offense.

Lundqvist, who missed the last two games due to an undisclosed injury, made 25 saves, but the Rangers were shut out for the third time this season in a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden.

[+] EnlargeHenrik Lundqvist
Scott Levy/NHLI/Getty ImagesHenrik Lundqvist gives Sweden a big advantage in the Olympic tournament.
“He gave us a chance to win,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “He didn’t have a lot of work to do, but when he did he was sharp.”

Lundqvist (2-5-0, 3.25 goals-against average) was glad to be back. He just wished the result would’ve been different. The Rangers (3-7-0), who rank last in the NHL in goals per game (1.5), have understandably had a tough time scoring with wingers Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin all out due to injury.

“It’s fun to play here again,” Lundqvist said. “I think we did a lot of good things. We just hoped for an early goal for us to get the energy and confidence and get the building going. It was kind of a tight game, but it was a disappointing loss.”

Lundqvist never had a chance on both Montreal goals.

Tomas Plekanec gave the Canadiens the lead 16:34 into the second period on the power play when he took a nifty back pass from Michael Bournival, moved in all alone and patiently backhanded the puck by Lundqvist’s outstretched left pad.

“It was the wrong player, wrong place there,” Lundqvist said of Plekanec, who leads Montreal with six goals. “He was very patient and I hoped for a shot. I kind of took the angle away and that’s why I was kind of late coming across, but he made a good move. I wish I got a better push there. He’s a really good player.”

Then, with just 2:51 remaining in the final period, Alex Galchenyuk cashed in on a 2-on-1. Lars Eller's pass deflected off Galchenyuk’s right skate and past Lundqvist. Lundqvist felt the goal should’ve been disallowed because he felt Galchenyuk used a distinct kicking motion to put the puck into the net, but the officials disagreed.

“If that’s not a kick, I don’t know what a kick is,” Lundqvist said. “Seriously, there needs to be some consistency with the calls. I think that’s my opinion. It’s just a frustrating goal there that kind of kills the whole game and it is what it is. It would be very interesting to hear their explanation for it just to know moving forward what the rule is.”

Lundqvist would like to play in Tuesday’s road game against the New York Islanders, but Vigneault would not disclose his starter.

“I’ve been resting, but we’ll leave it up to the coaches and we’ll see,” Lundqvist said.

Rapid Reaction: Canadiens 2, Rangers 0

October, 28, 2013
Well, just because the New York Rangers are home, doesn’t mean all their problems are solved. Granted, the Blueshirts had some legitimate gripes with the officiating and Montreal Canadiens backup goaltender Peter Budaj was superb, but the Rangers didn’t get it done in a 2-0 shutout loss to the Habs in their home opener at Madison Square Garden. Henrik Lundqvist made some excellent saves in his first game back after missing two games with an undisclosed injury, but Budaj was better in turning away all 27 shots faced. With a critical stretch of games at home ahead, the Rangers can’t afford to burn away points or employ excuses. With Monday’s blanking, the Blueshirts fell to 3-7-0 on the season.

Questionable calls: Rangers fans’ disgust with the officiating reached a crescendo in the third period, when Chris Kreider was sent to the penalty box for a phantom interference penalty in which Raphael Diaz collided with a teammate at the blue line and went tumbling to the ice. The penalty negated the bulk of what would’ve been a prime scoring opportunity for the Rangers on the power play.

Playing with fire: After killing off Montreal’s first three power-play opportunities, the Rangers’ penalty kill surrendered one late in the second with Brian Boyle in the box for a suspect elbowing call. A surgical passing sequence by the Habs left the Rangers helpless as Tomas Plekanec deked Lundqvist and beat him with a deft backhander to take a 1-0 lead with 3:26 remaining in the period.

Help on the way? Though coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t commit to it Monday morning, it is possible that Carl Hagelin will be back for Tuesday’s match against the Islanders. That would be a huge boost for the Rangers, considering the injuries that are hindering the team right now. Already without the grit and physicality of Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash’s size and skill, the Rangers look like they can use Hagelin’s speed ability to hunt down the puck. The young forward will certainly provide the Rangers with a different dynamic, including a more aggressive forechecking presence.

Up next: Rangers at Islanders, Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Critical stretch for Rangers starts Monday

October, 28, 2013
Finally home in a revamped Madison Square Garden following a demoralizing nine-game road trip to begin the season, the Rangers are in dire need of some wins.

This next stretch -- five of the next six games at MSG, the other just a short bus ride away at Nassau Coliseum -- will be a critical juncture for the Rangers' season. Desperate to rack up points and gain some ground in the Eastern Conference standings, the 3-6-0 Blueshirts need to start with a strong effort in Monday's Original Six matchup against the Montreal Canadiens.

Although their injury-plagued lineup still presents some challenges, New York will have Henrik Lundqvist making his return after missing the past two games with an undisclosed injury.

Even though the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner has been shaky thus far (3.45 GAA, .890 save percentage), his presence in nets still provides the team the best chance for success ahead.

"It's a good feeling to be back here," Lundqvist said. "I think everyone's really excited to be in front of our own fans and get some momentum here."

Lundqvist, who was battling through the aforementioned mystery injury during at least a portion of the road trip, said he feels confident that the issue will no longer be a problem.

Whatever was hampering him has improved over the past week and he doesn't anticipate it affecting him further.

"The last couple days it's been going in the right direction. That's all you can ask for," Lundqvist said after the team's Monday morning skate. "Now it's behind me so I'm looking forward to playing."

The Rangers are coming off a morale-boosting performance in Saturday's overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings -- a win in which Derick Brassard notched the game-winner with time winding down in OT.

"It felt pretty good, especially with the win," said Brassard, who struggled to find his game early this season. "I want to help the team with my offense."

Lack of offensive "pushback," as coach Alain Vigneault put it, was a consistent problem for the team during its early-season travails. In the past three games, however, the Rangers have notched a respectable eight goals.

During that span, they've also played a bit more conservatively. Instead of falling victim to the mistake-riddled eyesores out West, the team is playing more structured and "close to the vest."

"Slowly and surely, players are starting to understand what they have to do to be more consistent," Vigneault said.

Monday's match also marks Vigneault's debut at the Garden, a date on the calendar he has been eagerly anticipating since being hired as John Tortorella's successor this summer.

"I've been waiting for this for quite some time."

Moulson-Vanek trade is a gamble for Isles

October, 28, 2013
It'll take time for the dust to settle on Sunday night's stunner of a trade -- and it would be unfair to assess the winners and losers of the deal at this point -- but there was a fair amount of criticism for the Islanders after general manager Garth Snow shipped Matt Moulson and a pair of picks to Buffalo in exchange for Thomas Vanek.

Yes, the Isles acquired a two-time 40-goal scorer who has the potential to make some magic with star center John Tavares, but they made a significant gamble to do so.

Thomas Vanek #26 of the Buffalo Sabres
Jen Fuller/Getty ImagesSabres co-captain Thomas Vanek, a two-time 40-goal scorer, was traded to the Islanders on Sunday night.
If Vanek and Tavares enjoy the type of chemistry Snow hopes and expects, that'll be a start, but the real barometer of whether the deal was worthwhile will depend on whether Vanek decides to re-sign.

Considering the 29-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this July, he could turn out to be nothing more than a very high-priced rental. It's also worth pointing out that there has been significant speculation that Vanek could land with the Minnesota Wild this summer -- a notion that should not be discounted given his ties to the area.

Vanek is skating on a line with Tavares and Kyle Okposo on Monday, but what sort of success will they have together? Vanek's numbers speak for themselves, which is why Snow viewed the former University of Minnesota standout as an offensive upgrade, but it's hard to deny the chemistry forged between Moulson and Tavares in their four years together on Long Island.

Here's where things will be interesting to watch.

I'm not suggesting that Snow should pander to his star player, and Tavares isn't the type of person to demand that treatment, either. However, I do think there needs to be consideration given to the fact that Moulson is, for all intents and purposes, Tavares' comfort blanket both on and off the ice. They are best friends and linemates who have rarely played apart. Heck, Tavares is even the godfather to Moulson's 14-month-old daughter, Mila. Do you risk upsetting your franchise player and disrupting a very productive tandem for a player who may be around for less than a season?

That's the chance Snow took, and he'll have to stand behind that should it not pan out.

Also, know this:

Moulson was not unhappy in Long Island. To the contrary, he was surprised to hear about the trade and upset to leave his teammates. He had plans to be a part of the team's future; he did not want out.

The Islanders and Moulson's camp did not have any substantive talks before the trade, but that doesn't mean it had become a toxic situation. Not by a long shot. Moulson was in line for a significant pay raise, but he also knew that he would not be making more in annual average value than Tavares should a long-term deal been worked out.

Now, he's out of town before such talks even transpired.

The Isles rolled the dice. Maybe it pays off, maybe it does not. Until then, they parted with a core, character guy whose chemistry with the team's star player was a known commodity. They did so at a high price and a high risk.

Is that criticism deserved? You bet.

ESPN.com's Craig Custance also offered his take here. A very good read with strong insight and analysis.

W2W4: Rangers vs. Canadiens

October, 28, 2013
At a glance: After a nine-game road trip that left them reeling with a 3-6-0 record to start the 2013-14 season, the Rangers finally return home to a revamped Madison Square Garden in Monday's Original Six matchup against the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 p.m. This marks the start of a critical stretch in which the Rangers play five of the next six at home, with the only road game being Tuesday's divisional clash against the Islanders. With the Blueshirts five points back from a playoff spot, they have some ground to make up in the Eastern Conference standings.

Return of the King: Bigger than the boost they will receive from their familiar digs is the lift the Rangers will get from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's return. Though backup Cam Talbot served as a capable fill-in while Lundqvist was out with an unspecified injury the past two games, the Rangers want their former Vezina Trophy winner in the net. The 31-year-old Lundqvist, who battled the injury while playing for a stretch of the road trip, is off to a rocky start with a 3.45 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage. Now that he has put the injury behind him, the Rangers hope he can return to form.

Still depleted: Though Lundqvist is making his return Monday night, the Ranger are still without half of their top six forwards. Carl Hagelin (shoulder) is the closest to coming back; the speedy winger is eligible to come off the long-term injured list Tuesday. Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash aren't expected back any time soon, however. Callahan is not slated to return for approximately three weeks, while Nash's status is even more nebulous. The star winger, who suffered a concussion earlier this month, has not appeared to make any progress toward a comeback. According to the team, there is "nothing new" with Nash's situation.

Bad Hab-it: The Rangers were swept in last season's series against the Canadiens, but Montreal seems to be amid a bit of a skid, with losses in three of its last four games.

Lundqvist to play in home opener

October, 27, 2013
After two games with Cam Talbot between the pipes, the Rangers will have their home opener with Henrik Lundqvist in goal.

Lundqvist missed two games with an undisclosed injury.

Click here for the full story.

DiPietro gets a shot with Canes' AHL club

October, 27, 2013
The door to the NHL hasn’t opened wide for former No. 1 draft pick Rick DiPietro, but a professional tryout by the Carolina Hurricanes with their American Hockey League affiliate in Charlotte opens it a crack, and that’s a crack that didn’t exist last week.

"When he’s healthy and he’s into it, he can stop pucks," Carolina GM Jim Rutherford told ESPN.com on Sunday. "That’s what we’re hoping he can do."

DiPietro, a free agent after being bought out of the remaining eight years of his 15-year, $67.5 million deal by the New York Islanders in the offseason, had been working out with the Boston College hockey team when Rutherford inquired about his availability.

Rutherford hopes DiPietro will start two games for the Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday and Thursday, and then they’ll assess their options. The Hurricanes have been laid low by injuries to their top two goaltenders, Cam Ward, who is out for at least a month with a lower-body injury, and backup Anton Khudobin, who has been out for more than two weeks with what is believed to be a foot injury. Khudobin, who has been excellent for the Hurricanes, could take shots Monday, but his return timetable remains cloudy -- hence the interest in DiPietro.

The Hurricanes, tied for second with the Islanders in the mediocre Metropolitan Division with a 4-4-3 record, have been relying on Justin Peters, who has little NHL experience.

"But what happens if he goes down?" Rutherford asked.

Although the team examined a number of goaltending options, including a number of former NHL netminders currently without work, Rutherford liked the idea of seeing what DiPietro could do.

The veteran GM said he met DiPietro, 32, during last season’s contract talks and liked what he saw in DiPietro’s personality and attitude. The two main obstacles that have dogged DiPietro in recent years -- his health and his monster contract that had become, in the end, a kind of albatross -- are both gone, Rutherford noted.

"He's got a lot of things behind him," Rutherford said. Now, he’s back to square one. “It’s a very good opportunity for him,” Rutherford added, even if DiPietro doesn't end up signing with the Hurricanes.

DiPietro played only three games for the Islanders last season, losing all three before being put on waivers and sent to the team’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, where he played 18 games. Since 2008-09, DiPietro has played only 50 NHL games.

Rangers fall 2-1 to Flyers

October, 24, 2013

There was a lot more to like in Thursday's game against the Flyers than the Rangers have shown in previous weeks, but the fact remains that the Blueshirts dropped a very winnable game 2-1 to the team that entered the match with the league's worst record.

Here's a recap of some highs and lows from the night -- a loss that dropped the Rangers to 2-6-0 on the season:

--First of all, a fine effort from 26-year-old Cam Talbot in his NHL debut, filling in for an injured Henrik Lundqvist. He looked poised and confident in his first game as a Ranger and made 27 saves to keep the team in it. Both Talbot and the penalty-killing unit were particularly impressive in negating Benoit Pouliot's five-minute major penalty at the end of the second period that carried over into the third.

--Speaking of Pouliot, he could face supplementary discipline for his ill-advised hit on Max Talbot that sent the Flyers winger headfirst into the boards. He was tossed with a game misconduct, and though Talbot took a nasty spill, he eventually returned to the game.

--A big turning point of the game happened when what would've been a game-tying goal from J.T. Miller was disallowed. The puck glanced off Miller's skate and the official review deemed it a distinct kicking motion.

--Brad Richards continued what has been an impressive start to the season with a sharp-angle shot in the first period that turned out to be the only goal Flyers netminder Steve Mason gave up all night. Richards leads the team with five goals in eight games.

--Besides Richards, there has been little offensive production, and that appears to be the Rangers' biggest problem right now. After the Rangers were blanked by the Devils on Saturday, coach Alain Vigneault bemoaned the lack of offensive push-back. There was a better effort in the offensive zone Thursday, but still not enough finishing. If the Rangers want to climb from the cellar of the Eastern Conference, they are going to have to find the back of the net.

MSG shows off transformation

October, 24, 2013
Jeff Skopin / ESPN New YorkHere's the vista from one of two Chase Bridges overhanging the court at the newly transformed Madison Square Garden.
After three years of construction, Madison Square Garden unveiled its $1 billion renovation Thursday.

Check out photos of the newly transformed Garden here and read all about it here.

Video: MSG time lapse

October, 24, 2013

Watch as Madison Square Garden completes a three-year transformation.