The smiles and exuberance of the old days continued until Super Bowl Sunday, but that's about it.
After Henrik Lundqvist had collected his first shutout since 2017 in Detroit on Saturday, it only took 40 minutes before he was eliminated in the garden against the stars 2: 5 against the Rangers on Monday evening.
Lundqvist allowed four goals in 15 goals before being replaced by Alex Georgiev, who went 4-2 in the third half.
"It was a tough game, for sure," said Lundqvist.
The Rangers work in a three-goal system, which is not ideal for either of them, and coach David Quinn made it clear that part of the equation is the "human element". In relation to Lundqvist, this means respecting what he has in his career, not losing sight of how he is playing.
"You don't treat every player equally. You treat every player fairly," said Quinn. "When you're 37 years old and you've had Hank's career behind you – and you're still the goalkeeper he is – a lot goes into it these decisions and in the conversations that you have. "
Georgiev gave up a goal on six shots while Igor Shesterkin was a healthy scratch.
Chris Kreider did not play after skating in the morning and was considered a playful decision. The winger hit a knee on the head of team-mate Mika Zibanejad on Saturday and has not returned to this game. Quinn said it wasn't a concussion, just an upper body injury.
According to the trainer, Kreider wanted to "line and punch", but was persevered.
Quinn threw the lines into the blender for the third time, but Pavel Buchnevich was mostly on the bench with only two shifts in the final phase and none at 10:02.
"I didn't like his game at all," said Quinn. "I didn't like his game at all."
Forward Phillip Di Giuseppe made his Rangers debut and started with Zibanejad and Buchnevich in Kreider's top position. The 26-year-old winger, just called by AHL Hartford, ended the ice age with four shots on goal in six attempts at 12:32 p.m.
The fourth goal that Lundqvist gave up went to Blake Comeau, who was a curious, career-long nemesis. It was Comeau's 14th career goal against Lundqvist – the former Islander scored 135 goals in 835 NHL games – which made him the fourth most goals against Lundqvist, just behind Sidney Crosby (24), Alex Ovechkin (24) and Evgeni Malkin ( 20)). He is connected to Travis Zajac of the Devils at 14.
You can find more information about the Rangers in the latest episode of the podcast "Up In The Blue Seats":