Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Prometheus gave man the gift of fire, but perhaps hindsight would have been the better endowment for the New York Rangers.
The Rangers finally felt this offseason that it wasn't going to work under the hard-nosed John Tortorella. His defense-first, sacrifice-the-body mentality had garnered plenty of regular-season success and playoff appearance after playoff appearance, but it never got the Blueshirts drinking blissful nectar from the Stanley Cup.
So, New York turned to a new head coach in Alain Vigneault, one who would maximize the offensive talent that the Rangers had collected. The playmaking of Brad Richards, the sniping of Rick Nash, the progress of youngsters J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider were being wasted under Tortorella. Vigneault would be the one to unlock the treasures from the vault like he did with the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows.
Sure, some defense would have to be sacrificed to make it work, but it would be worth it for the sake of Rangers hockey.
However, a 1-3-0 start under Vigneault, one that has produced a minus-14 goal differential, has put the idea of defense at the feet of Zeus like a sacrificial ram.
A slow start under a fresh head coach and a new system wasn't completely unexpected, especially with the Rangers opening the season on a nine-game road trip. But consecutive losses of 9-2 and 6-0 to San Jose and Anaheim, respectively, have jolted the Blueshirt faithful.
"It's just an awful feeling out there right now," said Rangers star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. "We're not getting it done. I don't have an explanation for it. We're just so far from where we need to be."
The Ducks figured to be in for a long night when they hosted the Rangers two nights after New York was routed by the Sharks, a seven-goal setback that saw San Jose rookie Tomas Hertl score four times. New York would surely hit the ice with a vengeance.
Instead, the Rangers were outshot 17-3 in the first period and trailed 3-0.
"We're obviously trying new things here, a different look. But hockey is about all the small details in the game and if you don't do that right, it's going to be a tough game. Especially when you play fast teams," said Lundqvist.
How long has it been since Lundqvist has seen this kind of chaos for the Rangers on the ice?
"This is probably the first time here in all my years in New York it's looked this bad," he said.
And Lundqvist should know, for he has seen plenty of action. Entering play on Friday, the veteran netminder was tied for second in the NHL in shots faced at 124.
The Rangers as a whole have given up 20 goals and have not scored more than three in any of their four games.
With the emphasis on picking up the offense, New York's blueliners have looked lost. Ryan McDonagh was just plain beaten to the outside on a stutter move by Anaheim's Corey Perry to set up the Ducks' first goal and New York's defense was caught with too many men behind the net on Anaheim's second tally.
It didn't seem things could get worse after the first period, but that wasn't the case. The Rangers looked heavily out of sync on the Ducks' fourth goal, when forward Benoit Pouliot and defenseman Michael Del Zotto skated into each other at their own blue line and lost the puck. Lundqvist raced out of his net to try and clear the turnover, but wasn't able to get the puck out of zone and the Ducks eventually fired the puck onto the gapping cage.