Regular Season: The Rangers didn’t score like many thought they might after acquiring Rick Nash, but they rode the ever-steady goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist and a tight defensive style to the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Playoffs: The first round was a homer series, as the Capitals won their first three games on home ice, as did the Rangers. However, game 5 in Washington was the exception and the Rangers walked in and humiliated the Caps in D.C. by a score of 5-0. The Rangers were then fodder for the Bruins, who were coming off some game 7 heroics of their own, and Boston eliminated the Rangers in 5 games.
Ready To Make The Jump: F J.T. Miller
BIG 3 FACTORS
1. Bye Bye Torts: The underacheivement as well as the way Brad Richards was treated in the playoffs led to John Tortorella being let go as head coach, essentially swapping coaches with the Vancouver Cancucks, and bringing in Alain Vigneault. Its going to be a very different style, more of a low-key approach, which might suit the Rangers style of play better.
2. Staal Return To Health: Marc Staal returning to full health after a scary eye injury last season will be a great boost to an already strong blue line. His presence will allow all of the Rangers to fit roles better, and boost play at both ends of the ice.
3. Richards Return From Purgatory: Whether or not he was lighting up the scoreboard at the time, banishing one of your top players and leaders to the press box in the middle of the playoffs wasn’t the right thing to do, and I don’t think Richards and Tortorella could have co-existed any longer. Richards will get a fresh start under Vigneault and I think he will return to productivity in the new environment.
PROGNOSIS: The Rangers will be a better team now that Tortorella is gone, something I said at the time should have happened a month into the season. But what do I know? The late season trade with Columbus to bring Derek Brassard to New York helped immensely, and now that the Torts shadow is gone, the Rangers should blossom.
PREDICTION: 2nd Metropolitan Division
We have been and will be previewing every NHL team ahead of Training Camp which for most teams will begin on Sept 11th. As a twist, we will be unveiling our teams in reverse order to how I predict they will finish in the standings. Here is the schedule (you can click on a team name to see the preview for that team):
|1||Sept 9||Sept 8||Sept 7||Sept 6|