NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, December 14, 2015, 9:30 PM
The Rangers are desperate to stop the bleeding.
A disastrous trip to Western Canada has left the team searching for answers. The Blueshirts surrendered 14 goals in three losses over four days — at Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary — and have now won just two times in the past 10 games. They’ve fallen to third place in the Metropolitan Division, trail the rival Islanders by one point and continue to battle injuries, with defenseman Dan Girardi (swelling in knee) the latest to fall victim to the bug Monday.
A chance to turn things around, though, comes Tuesday night at the Garden with a rematch against the Oilers, who topped the Rangers, 7-5, in a wild game Friday night. Henrik Lundqvist was pulled from that contest less than three minutes into the third period, and the Rangers goaltender is looking forward to the possibility of redeeming an embarrassing loss, while taking a step back in the right direction.
“For me and for anybody in this room, you just have to look at your own game and focus on what you can do here to raise your level and to help this team get the next win,” Lundqvist said after Monday’s practice in Westchester. “You don’t want to complicate it. You don’t want to overthink it. I think we’re doing a lot of good things. We just have moments throughout games where we’ve been hurt.”
Recently, many of those moments have come in the defensive zone, forcing Lundqvist to bail the team out or pay the price. Lundqvist was pulled from a game for just the second time all season Friday, and the pressure has started to weigh on the world-class goalie, though he doesn’t plan on making changes to his mentality or routine.
“Every time you don’t manage to get a win, you feel like you have to do more,” Lundqvist said. “But at the same time, you don’t want to change too many things just because you see different situations in front of you. I don’t want to start challenging too much.”
The Rangers’ injuries aren’t helping either. Alan Vigneault announced Monday that Girardi is “day-to-day” with swelling in his knee after blocking a shot against Vancouver. He won’t play Tuesday.
Nor will Derek Stepan (broken ribs) and Kevin Klein (oblique), who both skated with the team Monday for the first time since sustaining their respective injuries in the final week of November.
Vigneault said both Stepan and Klein “responded well” and could skate again Tuesday morning. Whether they join the Rangers on a two-game Western swing later this week will depend on how they perform at Wednesday’s practice.
For now, the Rangers must make do with what they have.
A win Tuesday, though, could provide a spark.
“Everybody knows it’s just way more fun when you win. That’s when it starts to create a good atmosphere in the room,” Lundvqist said. “To reach your top level, I think it starts with winning.
Do good things, and you win, and you create good habits and gain confidence. But to get there, you have to start small (and) do the little things right.”
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