In the waning moments of last night’s 5–1 Rangers loss to Carolina, there were just enough people left in the Garden to muster an audible “Let’s go Yankees” chant. It was a not-so-subtle message: When does baseball season start again? The embarrassing losses are piling up for the Rangers — they’ve led for a total of 31 seconds in their past four games — so it only makes sense that someone who’d just watched the last-place Hurricanes embarrass them on home ice would want to turn their attention elsewhere.
Statistically, the Rangers have probably played a worse period than they did in the first last night — they allowed only two of Carolina’s five goals in the opening period, albeit both within the first four minutes — but for our money, they’ve never looked flatter. They’d generate a bit more offense as the game progressed, though not nearly enough to make up for some soft Carolina goals (Eric Staal’s first one, especially) and even more defensive breakdowns. Once again, they failed to grab momentum when they had the chance: Ryan Callahan’s second-period goal, which cut the Carolina lead to 2–1, was followed 41 seconds later by a Sergei Samsonov tally that sucked any remaining energy from the building.
John Tortorella benched Wade Redden in the second period, which reminds us of when he scratched Redden from the lineup following a home loss to the Islanders in December. The Rangers went on a mini-roll after that — a stretch of games that’s allowed them to, inexplicably, remain in playoff position (in the ridiculous Eastern Conference, eight of fifteen teams currently have either 54 or 55 points). But though there’s a certain logic to less Redden equaling more wins, we suspect jump-starting this team — again — isn’t going to be so easy.