Up-and-down Rangers out to keep Flames tumbling

The New York Rangers have a winning record but are looking for consistency early this season.

Heading into Tuesday’s road clash with the Calgary Flames, the Rangers are coming off a 4-1 win over the Seattle Kraken on Saturday, which has them riding a win-one, lose-one stretch.

The good news for the Rangers is that victory to begin a five-game road trip had all the elements they are looking for to become a top-tier club as many experts predicted.

“I liked the way we skated and competed right from the drop of the puck,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “Pretty consistent for 60 minutes. We improved upon a lot of things (after the last game). I do think that we eliminated some of those turnovers. I think the forecheck was good, I think that we kept them in front of us.”

It helps that the Rangers have their big guns rolling along. In Seattle, it was the line of Artemi Panarin, Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere that did most of the damage. Lafreniere scored once, Chytil collected three assists and Panarin netted two goals, which gives him seven points (three goals, four assists) in a five-game point streak to open the season. Panarin began the 2022-23 campaign on a six-game streak.

“We try to keep talking to each other,” Chytil said after his first career three-point game. “All three of us are trying to play our game, but we’ve got to communicate.”

The Flames are in desperate need of changing their fortunes after a disastrous five-game road trip, in which they posted just one win and finished with a 6-2 thumping at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

After the changes from last season, notably the firing of coach Darryl Sutter and replacing him with Ryan Huska, hopes were high in Calgary. Instead, it’s been a rough start.

“Six games in and there’s a lot of hockey left to be played, but we’ve got to pick it up,” captain Mikael Backlund said. “We don’t want to fall behind here. We want to stay within the race, and you can’t take anything for granted early on even though it’s a long season, because it might hurt you in the end.

“We’ve got to pick it up here. We did some good things on this trip, but we need a really good homestand.”

The Flames are falling short in almost all areas, but the most noticeable problems against the Red Wings were the number of turnovers and inability to match Detroit’s team speed.

“I think a lot of it is making sure you’re ready to play, for one,” said Huska, whose club fell behind before the two-minute mark. “But how you move the puck, No. 2, and then, what you do with it.

“If you want to get pace going but you’re consistent in turning it over at either blueline, it’s hard to get that pace for any sort of consistent period of time.”

Calgary defenseman Rasmus Andersson is slated to serve the second game of his four-game suspension but filed an appeal. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was scheduled to hear the appeal Monday.