The Rangers are playing like Strangers.

We don’t know this team.

Sure, the names are familiar: Lundqvist, Nash, Stepan, Brassard, McDonagh. The list goes on. But the results? They’re not what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from the Rangers since 2011.

I was at the game last night. From my perch in the last row at the BB&T center, I witnessed two teams heading in seemingly opposite directions. The young, hungry Panthers, skating with the determination of a team that’s hellbent on not only making the playoffs, but making some noise when they get there. Then, the Rangers. They were completely lifeless. The zero on the scoreboard as time expired reflected their effort. Zero spark. Zero passion. Zero work ethic. It looked like they have zero chance of even making the playoffs.

You want to shake your head, rub your eyes and make it go away. But you can’t. They can’t either. Since the 15–2–3 start, the system-wide breakdown has been nothing short of alarming. I love AV as a coach. But a team with this much talent and this much playoff pedigree shouldn’t look like rejects from a Sunday morning Rec League.

This is not an old team, folks. A battle-tested team, sure. Seventy-six playoff games the last four seasons prove that. But you’d think that a team that’s gone as far as the Rangers have the last two seasons would be chomping at the bit to finally climb to the top of the mountain. You’d think they’d use the regular season to fine tune their game for the two-month grind to Father’s Day. You’d think all of it. But you’d be wrong. Dead wrong.

And that’s how the Rangers look right now — dead wrong. I’ve been a fan since the early ‘70's. I want them to turn this thing around just as much as the next fan. I want to turn on the TV and see the crisp breakout plays. The tape to tape passes through the neutral zone. The lightning-fast entries into opposition territory. The forecheck pressure that’s turned the other team’s D-men inside out on a nightly basis. But none of that’s happening right now. We want to figure it out. We want them to win again. We want things to return to normal. But will they?SyFy just ran their annual Twilight Zone New Year’s marathon. This season’s Rangers would have made for an ideal episode.

We don’t know this team.

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