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McDonagh: Rangers must get back 'in sync'

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh isn't interested in talking about what happened to his team at this time last year, but considering the results of the past two games he can't be all that surprised those memories and stories have bubbled back up.

After opening the season with a 3-2 win against the St. Louis Blues, the Rangers have lost 5-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets and 6-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They started last season with regulation losses in six of their first eight games, and allowed five or more goals in three straight.

"We've got a lot of guys back and we went through a similar thing last year, but I think last year was more of a debacle than this year," McDonagh said. "I really don't want to talk any more about last year because this is a new group and we're trying to find our game, find our rhythm. It's there in spurts, very little spurts, but as a whole we need everybody to get in sync here."

McDonagh talked a lot about getting in sync after the loss to Toronto on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. He said it starts with discipline, which has been a concern in the past two games.

The Rangers gave Columbus four power plays, but killed them all and allowed only two shots. Toronto, though, was 2-for-4 on the power play Sunday. The Rangers have been shorthanded 13 times so far; only the Winnipeg Jets have been shorthanded more than New York.

Toronto defenseman Cody Franson scored 17 seconds into the Maple Leafs' first power play, and forward Phil Kessel scored 24 seconds into their third. Franson's goal came with Rangers center Dominic Moore in the box for tripping; Kessel's goal came with defenseman Matt Hunwick in the box for holding the stick.

"I think we've been pretty undisciplined here all three of these games so far and giving teams a lot of looks on the power play," McDonagh said. "[The Maple Leafs] have a lethal power play and it gets their guys going, they feel a little bit confident out there. It starts with discipline. It starts with execution. We need a little bit of everything."

In addition, the Rangers power play is 0-for-8 so far and allowed a shorthanded breakaway goal to James van Riemsdyk on Sunday, largely because they couldn't hold the puck in at the top of the zone. McDonagh put some blame on himself for that.

"It's a 50-50 puck and me and [Rangers forward Lee] Stempniak kind of hesitated, looked at each other," McDonagh said. "It's probably one I definitely want back because of the decision to stay in. I should just back out and play it smart there."

That goes back to being in sync, on the same page. The Rangers have another chance to get there Tuesday against the New York Islanders, but if they don't there will be more comparisons made to their start last season, like it or not.

"We can't just say put it behind us," McDonagh said. "We've gotta look at each other, look at our team, and figure out what we need to do to be successful out there. When maybe it isn't going as well as we want it to we've gotta learn to pull back and simplify instead of trying to force it too much and maybe running out of position and looking for one extra play. We've got to get in sync."


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