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.
Good call on that Laviolette firing. Three games in, three losses, and he's done.: http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/eye-on-hockey/24045471/philadelphia-flyers-have-fired-coach-peter-laviolette
@NYRblogneill Props, but that was a gimme..
The Rangers are a Frankenstein organization right now; athletes that fit Torts hockey trying to thrive in a quasi euro skating strategy
No way in hell Carolina makes the playoffs and Ottawa doesn't. I think the Sens are a legit Cup contender if they stay healthy.
Richards will be bought out at the end of the season regardless of what he does but I expect a 65+ point season from him. He's playing with 2 other playmakers and will benefit with 25 goals. Pouliot will have a breakout season on Broadway. Brassard will break 20 goals and score 60 points as well.
Interesting predictions. Understand the scoring concerns but a healthy Nash gets 40 goals in this system, especially if he plays more time down low in the trenches and plays a bit nastier. No reason Cally, even with the shoulder doesn't net 25 if healthy. Brass gets 25-30. Stephan 25 with 80+pts. Zucc is 1st or 2nd in assists on the team with 15-20 goals. Hagelin with his shoulder starts slow but gets 20. Some of the missing scoring comes from the blue line. It should be fine if we play solid D and the King reigns. Not sure about Richey, but I'm the guy here who never thought he was that great from day 1 so I can't have expectations as he moves into his declining years. toughness is an issue but without a frustrated coach, who benches his players inconsistantly the boys won't be as gun shy when it comes to protecting one another. It is a transitional year. The 1st half will probably just be .500 and then 2nd half maybe 24-13-5. Some good trades near the deadline will give us some added toughness during the time of year when it will be essential. Unless MDZ gets hypnotherapy, or electric shock therapy he's through - the only glimmer of hope lies in the coaching change and whether or not AV can reach him. His handful of good games last year coincided with those games he played with an edge and got nasty. He could be good but he thinks way too much, but again without Torts breathing down his neck who knows? Not holding my breath. All in all it should be a good campaign and I'm pretty psyched. Oh yes - rookie surprise, like Kreids and Lindberg could tip the scales. LGR Drop that puck!!!
I agree with most of these predicitions, but the one thing that really stands out is the team toughness. It was glaring last year. They traded for Clowe (gave up 3 2nd rounders to get heavily damaged goods) and now he's gone.
MY BOLD PREDICTION (OR RATHER MY WISH): The Rangers trade a couple of good prospects (say any two of the following: Fast, Kriso, Hrivik or Kreider) to get one guy who really inflicts fear and pain and can score (like a Milan Lucic type).
just throwing this out there...does anyone think that Sather shops richards around? I know his contract is bloated, but look at what happend with Gaborik last season when he went to Colombus, maybe another team thats hurting will want to take that on, they could always buy him out as well if they have buyouts left and sather would get something for his contract as well then and it wouldnt be just cap space...
The real concern is over the long-term that (1) Sather doesn't get fired and (2) Chuck Dolan owns the Rangers for the next 30 years dooming them to perpetual mediocrity.
@CarolinaMatt63 So there are some people who remember how good we were at the start of last season.
James, the Rangers can't play Pittsburgh in the East Finals unless one of us are the 4th seed in the new Atlantic. Based on your point predictions, that wouldn't be the case so yeah....can't happen lol
@CarolinaMatt63 had to read it to believe it! Lol!
Where are @Herman_NYRBlog 's predictions??
First of all Kevin, I'm sorry, but you have to lose this dream of the Rangers being a "tough" team, especially with AV at the helm. I agree that the road trip will help them bond, there will be more camaraderie, and they won't skate away while one guy is getting pushed around. But if you want to root for a "tough" team, buy a Bruins Jersey. Dorsett and Asham will fight when needed (if they're in the line-up), and don't be suprised to see John Moore and even McD drop the gloves when its really needed, but we'll be near the bottom of the league this year in fights, and no one is going to fear us. With the issues surround Boogard, and the way contracts with guys like Brashear just ended up being useless, I wouldn't be surprised if Sather never goes after an "enforcer" again.
Love the predictions of Staal re-emergance, DelZotto being moved, and Richard being bought out. I expect a slow start, followed by marked improvement throughout the season, Sather makes 1 or 2 trades and this team could get back to the conference finals, but like you guys said, won't make it past the likes of Boston or Pittsburgh.
Exactly how are they going to ship out 2 ELC and bring back an NHL roster player? There's no Cap space left. To make a trade this year, most teams will have to both send and receive salary. In saying that, I don't think the deadline will be very busy this season. Most teams are right against the cap. Teams that have space don't spend much. The NYI are the only team with money that may make a trade.
@rangersfan iwouldnt mind seeing that happen
@mlsranger We can't trade him so another team can buy him out - not allowed on amnesty and if it was regular, we would still be hit for it. Sather might be shopping him but won't find any takers cause of length of contract. That was the good thing for Gaborik - his contract is up after this year so they weren't locked in for long time.
@20Schmidty We have had the most fun as Canes fans as huge underdogs, so anything is possible.
@rangersfan dolan may want to cut his losses if/when he loses the garden after the long and expensive legal fight it will cost him ontop of the new arena he will need to build.
I really am not scared of Pitt. Come playoffs, they fold when they play a good goalie and defensive team. Think Detroit will be the toughest to beat and we take them in 6 in the ECF... What a throwback series too
@Centerman21 good point. The rangers would have to include a roster player - Hagelin? Boyle? Del Zotto?
@NYR44 @rangersfan only one problem: Name one other player with a Milan Lucic-like style that a team would be willing to move for prospects? Clowe was probably one of the few options, and that basically blew up in our face.
It would be a dream come true if we could get a winger to put on a line with Step and Nash who scared the crap out of opponents, but that really doesn't exist.
@Melissa (blknblueshirts) @mlsranger Exactly, Gaborik was low risk, high reward. He only had one season left, CBJ had the cap room based on the contracts they traded off, and even in his bad years he still led us in goals. Richards (unfortunately) has almost no upside. The only way he could get traded is if he actually IMPROVED this year and became an asset, peaking at the deadline, but Sather decided the cap room was more important than his production.
@TheWrage They still couldn't play each other - East Finals is winner of each division so Metro team plays Atlantic team unless you are placing 5 from Metro in and only 3 from Atlantic (which flipping NYR and WSH totals wouldn't do lol).
Pitt will collapse in the playoffs as usual. I'm afraid of Montreal in the playoffs and maybe Detroit.
@Rangers3024 i dont even think Montreal makes the playoffs... think Detroit, Boston, Toronto, and Ottawa will all finish ahead of them