The Rangers Silp on a Banana Peel at the Start

Rangers lose their first two games by a combined score of 9-4

It didn't take long to realize that Rangers coach John Tortorella wasn't happy with his team's aggressiveness in the Saturday night opener against the Bruins. 

The Rangers lost that game 3-1 and Tortorella decided to reach into his bag of tricks on Sunday night by starting thug Aaron Asham on the opening faceoff in order to have one of the ridiculous-looking orchestrated fights that hockey can't seem to eliminate from the game. Asham and Tanner Glass of the Penguins threw down and the Rangers were so inspired that they fell behind 5-1 on their way to a 6-3 loss. 

These kinds of appointment fights are a pretty big blight on the game, never more so when they're greeted with a shrug of the shoulders from the very players you're trying to stoke into some frenzy of bloodlust. The Rangers got pushed around all night by a team that's going to be at or near the top of the Eastern Conference all season. 

Even in an abbreviated season, you can't make any big pronouncements about the quality of a team after two games. The state of the Rangers right now won't be their state over the course of the entire season so you don't want to overreact too much to anything that's gone down on the ice. 

Keeping that in mind, we won't say that the Rangers are a shell of last year's team when it comes to making the physical sacrifices needed to win games in the NHL. Instead, we'll just say that they look like a shell of last year's team on that front. 

Henrik Lundqvist wound up getting pulled on Sunday night, but he actually played a better game than he did against the Bruins on Saturday. The Rangers were leaving him hung out to dry by playing such a passive game while taking stupid penalties to make life even more difficult. 

You can accept that there are going to be issues with crispness after such a long layoff and can similarly write off chemistry issues when it comes to integrating Rick Nash into the mix. If those were the reasons for the Rangers' losses, you'd grudgingly accept that it's the price of doing business this way. 

Getting outworked and outhustled, though? That's not something you can write off on a limited training camp, not on a team coached by Tortorella and captained by Ryan Callahan. 

And it's not something that can continue too much longer without it being perfectly fine for people to start assuming that this is just the way the Rangers are going to be this season. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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