New York Rangers: California dreaming

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 09: A firefighting helicopter flies near the Hollywood sign as the Barham fire burns nearby on November 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The brush fire has burned roughly 34 acres of vegetation and appears to be under control. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

After a heartbreaking late loss to the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers hit the road for a four game trip to the west coast.

The California road trip is a relatively new event for the New York Rangers.  Facing the three California teams on the same excursion as only been around since 2013-14.   The common thinking is that the trip is an opportunity for the team to bond and get away from the distractions of home.   How has the team done on these jaunts?

The Rangers have played 18 games on six west coast trips in six years.  The results have been mixed. with the team playing .500 hockey with a record of 9-7-2.   The good news is that they have never lost all three games and they have swept all three once.

Their record against the three California teams is pretty even:

Anaheim Ducks  3-3-0
Los Angeles Kings:  3-2-1
San Jose Sharks  3-2-1

There have been some games worth noting during these trips starting with last season.

Three last minute goals

Last season the team made the trip very early in the schedule, in late October  David Quinn’s debut as Ranger coach had gotten off to a bad start, winning only three of his first ten games. They started the road trip with a very bad 4-1 loss in Chicago with Quinn calling it the worst game of the  young season.  The next three games in California were better, but the Rangers displayed a disturbing tendency to give up late goals.

In the first game in Los Angeles, the Blueshirts rallied from a 3-2 deficit to tie the score in the third period, only to see their nemesis, Alex Martinez, score the winning goal for the Kings with 55 seconds left.

In San Jose,  it was the same story as Tomas Hertl tied the score with only two second left in the game.  The Rangers redeemed themselves by winning in the shootout when Kevin Shattenkirk scored the only goal in the skills competition.

History repeated itself two nights later in Anaheim when Rickard Rakell tied the score with 26 seconds left, leaving the Rangers to win the game in the shootout behind goals by Mats Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad.

Three goals  scored in the last minute of three straight game is pretty bad.  By winning two of the games in shootouts, they team avoided what would have been a disastrous start.

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