The New York Rangers' home opener got off to an ominous start before the puck ever dropped Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, when Daniel Rodriguez took the ice to perform the national anthem in place of legendary anthem singer John Amirante, a fixture at Rangers games for more than three decades.
When Rodriguez emerged from the Zamboni tunnel, the Blueshirts faithful booed him loudly -- simply, it seemed, for not being the 77-year-old Amirante, who missed the game due to illness -- and it didn't take long for those boos to shift toward the home bench in a 6-3 loss that was effectively over after two periods.
The defeat dropped the Rangers, the presumptive Eastern Conference favorites, to 0-2 on the lockout-delayed campaign, and ordinarily, that wouldn't be cause for concern. After all, New York needed four games to get in the win column last season and ended up handily securing the No. 1 seed in the East with 109 regular-season points.
But with a 48-game season leaving teams...