I have to admit, going into the season, I'm a little uneasy.
I’m beyond concerned about the scoring depth on this team.
While I don't think Nash has a 40-goal season in him this year, 35 is absolute doable for him. After that, I'm not sure who else the Rangers can truly count on to supply consistent goal scoring.
Rangers fans have been fawning over Brassard this offseason, but the fact remains that he's never eclipsed 20 goals in any season during his career. And while it’s great that the Rangers got Stepan re-signed he's never been known as a goal scorer as he's failed to score more than 21 goals in a season.
Callahan and Hagelin's absence from the line-up as they continue to recover from shoulder surgeries will obviously keep their goal totals down and even when they're back in the line-up there's no guarantee they'll immediately return to form. See Gaborik's return from shoulder surgery last season.
Many predicted a breakout season for Kreider, but he’s down in the AHL, and even if he was on the Rangers he has a grand total of TWO career regular season goals.
How’s this for a stat, after Nash, only two players on the current roster (Callahan & Richards) have reached 25 goals in a season. And as I mentioned above, it is very doubtful Callahan will reach that total this season.
Ditto for Richards if he continues his downward spiral.
Sure, Vigneault is going to open up the offense this season, but if he doesn't have the players who can execute his new schemes, does it really matter?
Based on the preseason, I definitely anticipate a more successful power play this season. Hell, it can’t get worse. There was a lot more puck and player movement. I also loved that there was always someone in front causing havoc.
The biggest reason for the Rangers power play failings under Tortorella has been the lack of a true power play quarterback. The guy who has all the talent to do it is Del Zotto, but I have lots of questions about what goes on between the ears with him.
I’m most excited about a fresh start for the Rangers. Despite all the doom and gloom I’ve been spewing, there is a sense of camaraderie that is very similar to the 2011-12 club that was one of the closest Rangers teams I’ve rooted for.
While most might see the nine-game road trip to start the season as a negative, I think it’ll be a huge bonding experience that fosters a ton of chemistry with the team.
It also doesn’t hurt to have one of the league’s best goal scorers in Nash and when everything breaks down it’s always nice to turn to the greatest goaltender on the planet.
I’m most worried about the lack of team toughness. I watched the Rangers get pushed around all last season with zero push back. Both Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash got run last season without a response which is absolutely unacceptable.
When the Rangers were successful under Tortorella they displayed toughness and grit. When an opposing team faced the Blueshirts they were prepared to fight for every inch of the ice. Torts' crew wasn’t the most talented team, but would outwork their opponent and was always there for each other. For some reason the "jam" as Torts liked to call it disappeared last season.
When the Rangers parted ways with heart and soul guys like Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko and John Mitchell after the 2011-12 season, I think management miscalculated how integral those guys were to the success of the team. And up until this point, those players have yet to be replaced.
When the dust settles, I think the Rangers get in the playoffs, but I don't think they'll be able to get past teams like the Bruins, Red Wings or Penguins.
PIT – 109, BOS – 100, DET – 94, NYI – 94, MTL – 93, NYR – 91, WSH – 90, OTT – 89, TOR – 88, CBJ – 87, PHI – 86, NJD – 85, BUF – 83, CAR – 77, TB – 76, FLA – 70
Rick Nash will have a 40-goal campaign (41 goals, 40 assists) playing alongside Derek Stepan (26 goals, 49 assists)
Brad Richards will continue his decline leading to his compliance buyout in the summer (19 goals, 39 assists)
NYR will have the worst PP in the league (this is obviously a reverse jinx so that the opposite happens, which will be the Rangers having a top 5 PP this season **mark it down**)
Ryan Callahan will register his 1st career 30-goal season (32 goals, 28 assists)
Ryan McDonagh will lead the team in defenseman scoring (8 goals, 34 assists)
Chris Kreider will remain with Hartford for the entire season. AV is steadfast in his development and refuses to yo-yo him from the AHL to the NHL.
Henrik Lundqvist will sign an 8-year/$70 million contract midseason. He’ll also prove contract talks were a distraction, posting a 2.47 GAA and .915 sv%
The Rangers lose in the Eastern Conference Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 6 games.
The team finally gives up on Michael Del Zotto, trading him at the trade deadline. In response, the team recalls Dylan McIlrath (who proves he’s ready for the NHL) because it recognizes its need for toughness on the back line.
1. Not only does Marc Staal run away with the Masterton Trophy, he also has a monster year, earning a Norris Trophy nomination with a 12 goal, 45 assist season leading all NYR defensemen.
2. Chris Kreider spends less than 50% of the season at the NHL level, chipping in only 2 goals but is somewhat more successful in Hartford with 30 points in 55 games.
3. The Brad Richards experiment at wing fails. He has a so-so season with 18 goals and 30 assists and is demoted to the third line by the end of the year and eventually bought out in late June.
4. Despite the lackluster preseason performance and contract issues, Lundqvist has another "Lund-qvistian" season, starting 63 games and winning 38 of them to go along with another Vezina nod.
5. The power play improves slightly, finishing the season 16th in the NHL, but boast a top 5 PK unit.
6. The Rangers make a trade before Christmas, but stand pat at the trade deadline.
7. The Rangers finish in 2nd place behind Pittsburgh in the Metro Division with 97 points but wind up losing to the Penguins in the second round in 6 games.
First Coach fired: Peter Laviolette.
Eastern Conference team that missed the playoffs last year but makes it this year: Carolina.
Eastern Conference team that made the playoffs last year but misses it this year: I've got 2, Washington and Ottawa.
Western Conference team that missed the playoffs last year but makes it this year: Edmonton.
Western Conference team that made the playoffs last year but misses it this year: Minnesota.