With only a little more than 24 hours until the puck drops on the NHL season now is the perfect time to preview the season for the New York Rangers. The Rangers will play a 48 game season against only eastern conference teams. This also includes more divisional games, such as playing the Penguins and Flyers five times each. The key to this season will be never going on a prolonged losing streak, staying healthy, and finding ways to rest certain players. Henrik Lundqvist started in 62 games last year. In an effort to balance keeping him fresh and having the best players on the ice, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get around 37- 40 starts this season. The signing of Marty Biron seems even more important now in this short season than it did back in the summer. Looking over the Rangers schedule and considering the talent this team has, I can see this team ending up with a record like 33-9-6. Keep in mind that this season Pittsburgh has a fully healthy Sidney Crosby, so don’t be surprised if the Rangers don’t necessarily get the one seed again.
Here are some other news from the Rangers:
While the Rangers definitely addressed their biggest need by adding a top flight goal scorer in Rick Nash, they did sacrifice some defensive help. While none of the lost players were superstars like Nash, Dubinsky, Prust, and Fedotenko all played on the Penalty Kill. The Rangers are going to need to find people to replace them so that the defense that was a major strength of this team doesn’t suffer.
Three players who I think are going to be key to watch are Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle, and Michael Del Zotto. It appears today that Hagelin will be playing on the Rangers top line with Nash and Richards. He is going to be with too very talented players and could see a major boost in points if he plays well. Boyle is still going to be on the third line, but he is going to asked to play more defense this year to make up for the loss of Prust. Finally, the Rangers have signed Michael Del Zotto to a two year deal. Del Zotto took a major step forward last year but did struggle in the playoffs against New Jersey. I think the improvements he’s made defensively will be a key to the Rangers season. Coupled with his goal scoring ability he can become a star if he puts his game completely together.
Also of note the Rangers have bought out Wade Redden who will now become an unrestricted free agent. The lines on opening night will look as follows:
Hagelin – Richards – Nash
Callahan- Stepan- Gaborik
Krieder – Boyle – Pyatt
Asham – Halpern – Rupp
So call up your friends and get the snacks going cause NHL hockey is back.
About the Author
Written by Eric O'Connell
Eric O'Connell is Junior at St. John's University in Queens, New York but hails from Connecticut. He has been a life long fan of the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Rangers. Other interests include hanging out with friends, listening to music, having a good time, and Coffee Oreo Ice Cream. Follow on Twitter @EOCONN36 (opinions are mine and not Pro Sports Blogging)