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Rangers Hit the Road for West Coast Trip

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

After a disappointing weekend, the Rangers are hoping that a trip out west is just what the doctor ordered.

The Rangers head to California today for three games in four days, starting Wednesday night in Anaheim before facing the Kings Thursday. The trip concludes Saturday afternoon against the San Jose Sharks.

After Sunday afternoon's loss to the Penguins, the Blueshirts were already looking forward to some time away together, something they haven't done for an extended period of time much this season. In fact, the last time New York played back-to-back road games that weren't back-to-back against Eastern Conference teams was in late February against St. Louis and Dallas. Before that? Late January.

In fact, the Rangers haven't been away for longer than four days since a road trip through Nashville, Tampa and Florida at the end of December and the first few days of January. There's no road trip longer than three games on the entire calendar.

"Anytime you get the opportunity to be together as a group and play against teams out West, it's going to be good for us," said Eric Staal Sunday. "We have to pick ourselves up after these two games and have a couple of good days here and be ready for some tough games out west."

This marks the first extended trip for Staal as a Ranger. Since he arrived in New York on Feb. 28, New York has played four road games, one back-to-back set in Pittsburgh and Washington, and then one-off trips to Buffalo and Detroit last week.

Keith Yandle, who arrived in New York under the same circumstances last season as Staal, said road trips are a good for a player coming to a new team, as it gives you the opportunity to get to know your new teammates.

"I remember when I first got here, it was nice to get on the road," Yandle said. "You get out with guys and get to meet guys on a more extensive level. It's one of those things that obviously you're going into tough territory, playing tough teams, but I think that's one we've been good against, good teams."

The California teams are three of the best the NHL has to offer, with all three north of 80 points. Anaheim, especially, has been one of the hottest teams in the NHL over the last several months, and sports a 21-8-5 record at home this season. The Kings, meanwhile, have dropped just 11 of 34 games in regulation at Staples Center this year and has a plus-26 goal differential, the second-best in the conference.

The Rangers have had some success on the West Coast in recent seasons, most recently sweeping the three games last year after winning one of the three games early in the 2013-14 campaign.

"You've got to want to play the best teams," Yandle stated. "You've got to want to play teams to get points."

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