The Rangers were bad opening night, and really there was little to take from it. Igor Sheshterkin missed saves you'd expect him to make, and the offense, defense and special teams all looked ill prepared for the start of the season. Jack Johnson's penalty less than two minutes into the game set the tone for what would end up being eight times shorthanded on the night, with the Isles converting two of those chances.
Just two days later and it was almost a mirror image. It was the Isles who gave up the early lead, and it was Alexandar Georgiev who looked the more assured of the two goaltenders, backstopping the team to his fifth career shutout.
So which game is more reflective of who the Rangers will be this season?
On first blush, it's probably a bit of both. Their team defense still remains a work in progress, and as a result the burden falls still more heavily on the goaltender to make timely saves. Sheshterkin was unable to come up with one or two more saves in the first period of game one, and it perhaps made his teammates try to force the play more than they needed to. It didn't help either that they took eight penalties in the game, more than a few of those of the undisciplined variety.
By contrast in the second game it was the Rangers getting the first goal, which gave the team a boost of confidence - backed up by a couple of timely saves by Alexandar Georgiev. When Brendan Smith sprung Artemi Panarin on the breakaway to make it 2-0, the Rangers pulled the Isles out of their preferred game plan and forced them to take more chances.
Poor discipline on the part of the Isles kept shifting the momentum back to the Rangers and two periods later the home team would end up sealing the game with Panarin's second and the team's fifth of the game. It didn't help either that the team lost their scheduled starting netminder in warm-ups, and had to rely on a rookie making his NHL debut.
Still the margins are thin for the Blueshirts, who went into the season as the youngest team in the league, and one of the least experienced. For them to have success they will need a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, including staying out of the penalty box.