Disengaged, lethargic hockey was supposed to be a thing of the past upon the enforced passing of the coaching baton from Alain Vigneault to David Quinn.
Yet, here were the Rangers on Garden ice Sunday with a performance from 2017-18, which it to say, from that dreadful place that prompted the Letter, the Purge and a firing.
It was all that bad, even if the Blueshirts showed a semblance of pride and of a pulse over the third period before losing 4-3 in overtime to the Golden Knights and coming away with a point only because of Henrik Lundqvist’s brilliance through 40 minutes in which the home team might as well have been cardboard cutouts.
“It’s his point,” Mats Zuccarello said of the netminder. “We were not there.”
Lundqvist, who made flurries of outrageous stops against wide-open, point-blank chances while his teammates were both unaware and out of the picture following repeated turnovers and inexplicably bad decisions and a reluctance to get involved in the battle, was distressed both on the ice and in the postgame room.
“It’s one thing to lose when you’re ready, prepared and play hard, but I think the first two periods, it’s not the way we’ve been playing,” said Lundqvist, ultimately beaten by Alex Tuch on a two-on-one at 2:11 of OT. “At home, in front of our fans, we need to work harder. Mistakes are going to happen. I make mistakes, we all make mistakes, but we can’t accept not being ready to fight for one another here.
“I thought we were not ready. The position we’re in, we have to battle every night. It’s not going to be great every night but at least you’ve got to battle. That’s upsetting when you see that.”