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Homecoming Doesn't Work Out for Rangers

First Rangers home game is first Rangers home loss

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The King has a rough night in the new castle.

    The new-look Madison Square Garden got a splashy introduction to the public.

    Celebrities and Rangers legends streamed into the building before the game to check out the renovations meant to lift MSG 's comfort level and bottom line in the years to come. The place looked sharp and the crowd was abuzz, at least until the game started.

    Well, the crowd kept buzzing, but their buzzing became chants for the return of Sean Avery, banished to the minors by John Tortorella, instead of anything supportive of the Rangers.

    That's not a good sign for a hockey team, nor is losing 4-2 in a listless effort against the Maple Leafs in your first game on home ice this season.

    The Rangers scored first, had two more goals waved off on goaltender interference by Ryan Callahan (both calls were hard to argue with, although it is a bit odd that neither one resulted in an actual penalty) and then watched Toronto take advantage of a bad night for Henrik Lundqvist to score four straight goals.

    There are plenty of nights where Lundqvist steps up and bails out his teammates, but the rest of the team needs to be able to bail out the goaltender now and then.

    Right now, they don't seem capable of that kind of effort. The play in the offensive zone has no rhythm or flow regardless of who is on the ice and chances to score goals materialize as rarely as the Great Pumpkin.

    The thought was that the team would get better in that department with the addition of Brad Richards, a rebound from Marian Gaborik and growth from players like Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov.

    It hasn't worked out that way through eight games and the rest of the team is so ineffectual that hearing the chants for Avery made sense.

    Should he be on this team? He's divisive and he doesn't add much of anything to the offense, but he plays hard and skates better than a bunch of the lower-line guys currently on the team while also being a guy who will physically stand up for his teammates.

    That said, the team's record would probably be exactly the same with Avery in the lineup and Tortorella's palpable dislike for him means this is all a moot point.

    But the fact that the natives got restless less than 60 minutes into the first home game of the season is a sign that a lack of improvement is going to be meant with a lot more of the same.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.