While the Stanley Cup victory by the Kings last season seemed to come out of left field, it was not a surprise to me. I had actually called them to win the Cup heading into the playoffs despite the fact that they barely made the post-season as the 8th seed.
While there is still a ton of hockey to be played this season, the Rangers remind me of last year’s Kings. They have all the pieces in place to make a deep playoff run, even if they are not showing it at the moment. The Rangers sit in the 8th playoff spot heading into tonight’s game against the Senators, but you have to think that they are just biding their time.
They have the goaltending in Henrik Lundqvist to carry them deep into a playoff run. The blue line is deep, and now experienced but still young enough to withstand the grind. Now they have explosive ability up front with the acquisition of Rick Nash, who although he doesn’t have but 4 playoff games of experience, is an Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion, so he has played in high pressure games before.
They have the experience in terms of players who have been there before. Brad Richards is a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner and coach John Tortorella won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning.
In terms of young legs, they have J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider who will have some experience this season. After adding Arron Asham in the off-season, they now have that combination player of grit and playoff experience (60+ games) that is so important in the post season.
The Rangers might just be content to hover around the 6-8 place in the regular season, and bide their time come the post-season. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Ryan Callaghan lifting the Stanley Cup in late June, like Dustin Brown did last year. Like I thought about the Kings heading into the playoffs last year, the Rangers just seem like a team built for the playoffs.