If the New York Rangers looked like a team missing a gear or two the last two nights in their losses, perhaps it's because they were. They just finished a stretch of playing five games in seven days in three different cities. That's a lot of work.
Especially given the significance, demand and the amount of work put into playoff games, that's just draining. You could understand why they might be a bit slow.
During the streak the Rangers wouldn't use it as an excuse but now that the run is finished, coach Alain Vigneaul took the chance to throw his two cents in on the Rangers' schedule. He didn't think it was very smart.
"We tried real hard. We were forced to play a stupid schedule, five games in seven nights."
Vigneault added a little more on a follow-up question.
"Look at the implication of the games. Obviously it's a challenge both physically and mentally. Real proud of how we handled it."
The Rangers made some changes to the lineup in Game 3, hoping to combat some of the fatigue and get fresh legs on the ice. It didn't really work. They played an OK game but for the second time in 48 hours, they didn't score a goal, unable to finish their chances.
Though it is a bit rich in the eyes of some hockey fans to see the Rangers on the short end of the scheduling stick. They anually have the softest travel schedule in the league, certainly not anything that will make those in the West feel too sorry with their long flights being much more regular.
Still, the Rangers do have the right to be a bit upset about how it all shook out. Playing Games 6 and 7 vs. Philadelphia on back-to-back nights and then Games 2 and 3 vs. Pittsburgh, both of which required travel between cities, is going to take its toll. Excuse or not, it's pretty valid.
Of course it all comes down to arena availability at this time of the year and that's not always easy to get. Well that and the TV partners in deciding when games are played. Still, it's tough to see why they didn't play a day game at least in Game 2 to give an extra six hours to recover before Game 3.
Anyway, this is in the past now for the Rangers and it's not going to change so they'll need to find their legs again if they want to pull even in the series with the Penguins in what's shaping up to be a crucial Game 4 at home. For the first time in what must feel like a long time, they should at least be able to get a couple of good nights' sleep in their own beds.