Nearly three weeks into the season it can be argued that the New York Islanders are playing the best hockey in the New York Metro area. Considering the Isles just became the first team to lose a game to the Buffalo Sabres -- at home no less -- on Tuesday that's saying something. Indeed the start of the season has been anything but kind to both the Rangers and Devils the rival pair combining for two wins in 12 games up to this point both belonging to the Blueshirts. Starts don't get too much more frustrating than that. Remember just two years ago the Rangers and Devils made up the Eastern Conference finals with the Devils eventually winning the right to lose to the champion Kings in the Cup Final. They are two organizations that expect to be in the playoffs every season demand to be. And as we all know people don't overreact to bad things in the New York sports scene (uh huh). Bad beginnings can only festerin a cauldron like that. An ironic aspect of their slow starts out of the gate is the schedules they were given. Considering the Rangers and Devils annually have two of the cushiest schedules in the league given that so many teams are either a bus or train ride away it's a twist that they were given such demanding beginnings though I doubt they'll get much sympathy from the teams in the West and South. It was out of their control really so there was no choice but because of ongoing work at Madison Square Garden the Rangers began the season on a nine-game road trip starting on the West Coast to boot. Not only that but they spent much of the preseason out West as well. That's a long time to be away from home and especially when you're breaking in a new coach in Alain Vigneault who has brought some different aspects to the Rangers than they had under previous coach John Tortorella such as their defensive scheme (man-to-man vs. a zone) it's not ideal. While it sounds like an excuse -- maybe it is there's more to a team being minus-14 through six games than just that -- it has been a major factor in New York being bad from the start. It was no coincidence that they played perhaps their best game once they got back on the East Coast had a chance to go home and more importantly get back into playing teams in the Eastern Conference with a 2-0 win on Wednesday night in Washington. Henrik Lundqvist and the defense looked like Lundqvist and the Rangers defense again shutting out the Caps for a third straight time. Let's not forget about the Devils who are the only winless team left in the NHL starting the season with six straight losses. Thanks to overtime points the Devils actually do have points in half their games but don't mistake that for them not being bad; they have been. They're 28th in the league in goals per game 25th in goals against and 29th on the power play. The Devils have surrendered at least three goals in each game thus far. It has people doing a heat check of Peter DeBoer's seat.
Rangers, Devils at fore of miserable start for Metropolitan Division
CBS Sports | Oct 17