New York Hockey: New York Rangers

There's something to be said about whether you're a person who views life as a glass half full or a glass half empty.

There's been much talk in New York of late about why the Rangers have been inconsistent so far this season, and we're not here to say they haven't been.

But I would suggest the Rangers deserve credit for just keeping their heads above water over the opening quarter of the season when you consider their blue-line injuries.

You're talking about a team that went nearly all of November without star captain Ryan McDonagh and went five weeks after the opening game of the season without Dan Boyle, missed John Moore for five games while he was suspended, while Kevin Klein also missed a pair of games. There were long stretches when just Marc Staal and Dan Girardi were regulars on defense.

To put it in perspective, when it comes to missing McDonagh and Boyle for that long, consider how you think the Montreal Canadiens would have fared without P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov for the same length of time, even if the Boyle and McDonagh injuries overlapped for only two weeks.

[+] EnlargeMartin St. Louis
AP Photo/Matt SlocumMartin St. Louis has helped keep the Rangers in the discussion.
So, for the Rangers to have kept themselves a sliver over .500 during the opening quarter can easily be seen as an impressive show of survival, their season still very much alive and not shot down like a few other teams who couldn't overcome injuries early this season.

With McDonagh and Boyle both in the lineup Friday afternoon in Philadelphia, the captain's first game back since suffering a shoulder injury Nov. 1, you saw a glimpse of what we should see more of from the Blueshirts moving forward.

They handled a fragile Flyers team rather easily Friday, Boyle scoring his second goal in his past two games to open things up, Martin St. Louis getting career point No. 1,000 on his ninth goal of the season in the second period and Rick Nash crushing the Flyers' hopes with a short-handed goal in the third period.

Better things are ahead for Alain Vigneault's crew now that Boyle and McDonagh are both in the lineup at the same time. Count on it.

The Flyers? Oh, my.

This is a team playing like it is afraid to make a mistake. No confidence.

Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are having terrific seasons, but otherwise, there are fingers to point all over the place on this roster.

More than 20 games into the season and the Flyers are still trying to define their identity which to me is frightening for a team that should be better.

"I think our biggest issue has been our consistency," Flyers GM Ron Hextall told over the phone Friday evening. "You look at the Detroit game the other night, we played very well in the first period, and very well in the third period, albeit from behind, but the second period we played poorly. If we played 60 like we did 40, we would have won the game. Our consistency has been an issue game to game, period to period and at times even shift to shift."

The players have already been reamed out by Hextall, they've had a players-only meeting, what's next?

One would think likely a trade or two. I don't think Hextall can afford to wait much longer before acting.

But he's preaching patience, saying he won't make a move for the sake of it.

"We're not looking for a short-term fix," Hextall said. "We're looking for today and tomorrow but also for the future. So, we're not going to do something short-term that’s going to hurt us down the road.

"In saying that, if something is there that makes sense, we're certainly going to look at it. There's been more talk lately [with other teams], but nothing that makes sense for us at this point."

Before we ended the phone call, Hextall wanted to stress one last thing.

"On paper, our team is better than our record," he said. "But at some point we have to pick it up and get going here. And I think it comes down to the individuals playing better and coming together as a team. There's more in our room than we're getting. But we need to find it in a hurry."

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, 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."

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.

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.

W2W4: Rangers @ Flyers

October, 24, 2013
At a glance: The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers meet in Philly for a divisional clash between two teams desperate to turn their seasons around. While the Rangers have stumbled to a 2-5-0 record to start the season, the Flyers are in arguably worse shape. Not only was Peter Laviolette fired after just three games, but the team hasn’t been much better under new coach Craig Berube. Philadelphia has managed only one win since Berube took over; their 1-7-0 record is dead-last in the league.

Missing royalty: The big news for the Rangers is who will be in between the pipes. Henrik Lundqvist will miss Thursday’s game with an undisclosed injury that has been hampering him the last 10 days, clearing the way for 26-year-old Cam Talbot to get his first NHL start. Lundqvist, who missed the last three days of Rangers practice, will not be available to make up, either. The Rangers are expected to recall Jason Missiaen to back up Talbot, who had a strong training camp and went 4-0-1 with the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL), posting a 2.49 goals against average and .924 save percentage.

Opportunity for Kreider: Sent down to the minors after an “average” training camp, 22-year-old offensive prospect Chris Kreider has been summoned in wake of some costly injuries (Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin) to the team. It appears he will get the opportunity to play top-six minutes as well. Kreider skated in practice this week with first-line center Derek Stepan and veteran Brad Richards.

Lineup changes: Defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who missed Saturday’s game against New Jersey as a healthy scratch, is back in the lineup Thursday with depth blue-liner Justin Faulk expected to sit. Also, reports out of Philadelphia indicate that Norwegian winger Mats Zuccarello will be scratched in favor of Brandon Mashinter.

Flyers notes: Similar to the Rangers' long stretch without a game, the Flyers have had an entire week since their last outing -- a 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh. Veteran Vinny Lecavalier is due to return from injury and is slated to appear at right wing on the team’s top line with Claude Giroux. Injured forward Scott Hartnell will not play Thursday, according to multiple reports.