Rangers welcome old friends back to Garden with Columbus

Brandon Dubinsky
Brandon Dubinsky tweeted he was looking forward to returning to the Garden Thursday.
Credit: Getty Images

Head coach Alain Vigneault stood at the podium inside the press conference room following yet another dispiriting loss and acknowledged the obvious.

The personnel he has at his disposal do not necessarily fit with the brand of hockey he is trying to implement. But despite all evidence to the contrary, the onus is not on general manager Glen Sather to acquire players whose talents mesh better with his system.

“No. No. My job as a coach is to analyze the personnel that I have and put a system in place that best suits them,” Vigneault said after the Rangers 4-1 loss to Nashville Tuesday night at the Garden. “That’s my responsibility. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.”

It is in this atmosphere that the Rangers welcome the Blue Jackets and old friends Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov into the Garden Thursday night. The Rangers enter Thursday’s game having lost three in a row and having been outscored 30-22 in their last nine games.

“The difficulty of our offense right now [in] scoring goals [makes it] very challenging,” Vigneault said. “We need to find ways to win, whether that be getting a blocked shot at the right time from one of our players or whether it’s a goal from our fourth line or our ‘D.’

“I have an idea how I’d like it to play. Not quite sure we have the personnel to play the type of game I’d like to play, which is more of an offensive-oriented [style]. I think it should be obvious to everybody that we have a challenge right now scoring goals. Not saying we won’t get there, but I am thinking at this time right now that it is a big challenge and we have to be a little more defensive oriented for the time being.”

Even that will be a test.

The Rangers will not have captain Ryan Callahan and defenseman Marc Staal for the foreseeable future. Callahan will miss the next four to six weeks with a second-degree MCL sprain, suffered in the loss to Nashville, while Staal is out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms.

Pretty clearly, this was not what Sather and Vigneault envisioned when the coach was introduced as the franchise’s 35th steward in June.

“You can talk about a lot of things and say you’re going to go out and do certain things, but there are still so many variables in a game,” Brad Richards said after the loss to Nashville. “We were trying so hard, trying to do too much and that was causing problems. It’s tough right now. This isn’t a fun part of the game but it’s a challenge for us to come together and get back to work.

“No one is going to feel sorry for us. There is no one coming in the building that will give us a win. There’s a lot of work to do.”

Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.


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