The New York Rangers lost their first three games of the 2011-2012 campaign. As expected, a significant portion of the fanbase began to panic. Avery in the minors was the reason the team was failing. Derek Stepan was a one year wonder. John Tortorella needs to be fired. And on and on and on. Even as the team started to win games excuses were being made and people were inventing reasons why everything was a fluke or the team was on the verge of collapse.
Of course, the Rangers managed to finish first in the East, second in the NHL, and made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite all the early season histerics. Despite the injuries. Despite everything that supposedly was going to hold the Rangers back. The same people who at the beginning of the season were hitting the panic button and calling for trades and firings were later contemplating the banners that were going to be raised to the rafters. So with that in mind, let go through a list of things that will probably occur in some capacity this season. And let's put in perspective that every single team is going to experience similar issues.
1. We're not going to win all 48 games. And we're probably going to endure a slump at some point.
2. Our goaltending (whether Lundqvist or Biron individually or together as a unit) will at some point put together a few games where it is not at its best.
3. At least one of Gaborik, Richards, Nash, and Callahan will endure a slump at some point. Same goes for one of Staal, Del Zotto, McDonagh, and Girardi.
4. At least one of the players mentioned in #3 will suffer a notable injury of some sort as well.
5. At least one of Kreider and Hagelin will likely endure a sophomore (loose use of sophomore in Kreider's case) slump at some point in the season.
6. The powerplay and the penalty kill are going to, at some point in the season, struggle to an extent.
7. We're likely going to blow a lead in a few games.
Again, these are not specific to the Rangers. Even in a shortened season, things are inevitably going to go completely right at certain points while becoming absolutely miserable at other points. We're not going to survive the year without a single injury to an important player. We're not going to endure 48 games without someone of note struggling or underachieving. All 30 teams will have to deal with this. On the other hand, let's not get overly excited over the good things that happen early on, either. Hockey is a sport that inherently brings randomness and parity. If you allow yourself to get overly emotional with every twist and turn then it's just not going to be a pleasant experience. The Los Angeles Kings ,incumbent holders of the Stanley Cup, barely squeeked into the playoffs last season. And the season before that Boston media were discussing the possibility of Claude Julien getting fired halfway through the season. And of course, the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup as well. If 20 games into the season Lundqvist can't stop anything, Callahan and Gaborik are out long-term, and we're clinging to the 7th seed then yes, concern is merited. But otherwise, enjoy the ride. Don't get too happy when things are going well and don't get depressed when things aren't. I can promise you we will endure both; that's just the nature of NHL hockey.
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