NEW YORK RANGERS
THN pre-season prediction: 13th in East
Scoring leaders: Brandon Dubinsky, 37; Derek Stepan, 24; Marian Gaborik, 23.
Key stat: Rangers have won more road games than any NHL team (15-7-1), but are just 10-9-2 at home.
Biggest surprise: Brian Boyle. The 6-foot-7 behemoth put up just four goals and six points in 71 games for the Blueshirts last year, but currently sits second in team goal-scoring this season with 14 (and 22 points) in 44 games. Not bad for a guy who had 12 goals in 107 career NHL games prior to this year.
Biggest disappointment: Michael Del Zotto. Maybe he overachieved last season as a rookie defenseman who posted nine goals and 37 points in 80 games. Maybe we forget he’s still just 20 years old. But nobody imagined Del Zotto’s point production would be cut in half and he would lose the confidence of management to the point where he was assigned to the American League (as he was January 3) to re-establish his game.What to expect: If the Rangers could play all their games away from Madison Square Garden, they’d be challenging the Flyers, Red Wings and Canucks for first place in the league. Unfortunately, their maddening inconsistency at home has the Blueshirts in third place in the competitive Atlantic Division and only a short losing streak away from being on the outside of the playoff picture.
That reality is in part behind GM Glen Sather’s recent acquisition of Wojtek Wolski (for D-man Michal Rozsival) and likely will lead to additional deals – perhaps, for a big-time player such as Dallas’ Brad Richards – prior to the Feb. 28 trade deadline. Sather has more than enough cap room to make such a move; his history suggests he cannot help himself if he gets the chance to do so again.
Otherwise, the Rangers would benefit from some stepped-up play by highly paid right winger Marian Gaborik, who has just one game-winning goal in 30 games played.
...i would have said you were crazy if you told be before the season Stepan would have more points than Gaborik after 45 games.