Season Preview: NY Rangers
By Patrick Kearns, TheFourthPeriod.com
first time in a decade and half, the New York Rangers were on the doorstep of a
Stanley Cup Final in Manhattan. Their Hudson River rivals, however, bested them
in six games after the Rangers' stark lack of offensive firepower was prevalent
once again. During the off-season, GM Glen Sather had something to say about
that, acquiring former first-overall pick and seven-time 30-goal scorer Rick
This season, the Rangers will be able to roll out a strong combination of
skilled forwards and energy type players. They are a team that should be near
the top of the Eastern Conference when the final puck is dropped because of
their versatility and strength in every area of the ice.
The biggest hurdle will be a powerplay that has been abysmal under John
Tortorella, and hasn't really been all that great for over a decade. To prove
they can make noise in the playoffs, they will need to convert at a higher
Look for the Rangers to be led by Marian Gaborik, who has managed to stay
healthy, for the most part, throughout his tenure with the team. He will be
coming off an off-season surgery that limited him in the playoffs, but should be
very much ready to play when the teams break camp. The big acquisition of Nash
gives them a second elite goal-scoring threat, which they will need to keep up
with teams in their division. Combined with guys like Ryan Callahan, Derek
Stepan and Brad Richards, there should be no shortage of scoring for this club.
The Rangers will return almost exactly the same defense that they closed the
season with, with minor adjustments to the six or seven role. The most
impressive part of this defense corps is that no player owns a cap hit above $4
million. The older member of the defense is Dan Girardi, who at 28-years-old
enjoyed his first All-Star season last year. The Rangers' defense is a strong
point of their team, and Gordie Clark, the man that put this D together, is
hoping they all take the next step in their development. It will also greatly
help if Marc Staal has no lingering concussion symptoms this season and can play
at 100 per cent.
Henrik Lundqvist is likely one aspect of this New York Rangers team that fans
need not worry about. Coming off a Vezina-winning season, and a very strong
playoff performance, The King will be an anchor between the pipes for several
more years. Sather and company can't even imagine life beyond him at this point,
that is how integral he is to the success of the team. It will be extremely
interesting to see what kind of timeshare Lundqvist and backup Martin Biron get.
Biron has proven himself to be one of the more consistent No. 2 goalies in the
league, and he seems to have a good repore with the rest of the team. Tortorella
went as far as saying he wasn't even a backup last year.
On paper, the Rangers appear to be heading for a finish that sees them looking
down the standings at quite a few teams in the conference. They will likely
battle with Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division crown, but it is hard to
imagine the team finishing worse than sixth in the conference. But of course,
with a shortened season, anything could happen, and injuries become all the more
3 Players to Watch
Nash was brought in to score goals, it's that simple. With little time for
experimentation this season, Tortorella will need to find Nash the right
linemates in order for him to be successful.
A large amount of the team's success will hinge on the development of the
defense. McDonagh was incredible in his second season, and the high-IQ,
smooth skating Wisconsin alum will need to step up as a true No. 1 by adding
a little more offense to complement his brilliant defensive game.
The Rangers have waiting years for Chris Kreider, trying to make him turn
pro every time they talked. Finally, Chris decided to join the team, and
provided an immediate spark in the playoffs. The Rangers were able to ship
off some of their depth to acquire Nash in the hopes that Kreider can
replace Brandon Dubinsky or Artem Anisimov in an offensive top-nine role.