Better/Worse?

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Some questions in the form of a preview:

Are the Rangers better or worse at forward?

Added: Marian Gaborik, Christopher Higgins, Ales Kotalik, Enver Lisin, Vinny Prospal, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, Donald Brashear.
Subtracted:
Scott Gomez, Nik Antropov, Markus Naslund, Nik Zherdev, Blair Betts, Colton Orr, Fred Sjostrom, Lauri Korpikoski.

IMO: They’re better … as long as Gaborik plays. Two of the last three seasons have been wrecked by injuries, but when he has played he has scored big-time. The hip surgery was the same one A-Rod had, by the same doctor, and believed to have alleviated the groin problems. Gaborik returned late last season, so he’s had more time to recover than A-Rod had. I think he’s got a good chance to be clear of those injuries. He has played a bunch of nearly-full seasons as well during his career.

I think you guys will eventually love Higgins, who had big upside, as do holdovers Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. I think the Kotalik signing was a really good one, although maybe three years and $9 million was a tad too high, and so was the addition of Prospal. Tortorella will use his skill players to kill penalties, so I don’t think the losses there will hurt badly.

Better or worse on defense?

Added: Matt Gilroy and Mike Del Zotto; contract pending, Alex Semenov.
Subtracted: Paul Mara and Derek Morris.

IMO: They’re better IF Del Zotto sticks beyond the nine-game limit, after which the Rangers must return him to juniors or keep him the rest of the season. Their top four haven’t changed, and two of those — Michal Rozsival and Dan Girardi — had difficult preseasons. Wade Redden should get better and Marc Staal’s star keeps rising (although he needs to add some offense if he’s really going to be a top-level defenseman). I doubt Semenov is better than either Mara or Morris, but he is bigger and relatively tough.

Better or worse in goal?

No changes.

IMO: You have to assume Henrik Lundqvist will be as good as ever. He might have to play fewer games because of the condensed schedule and his Olympic participation. That means Steve Valiquette will have to be better than he was last year. Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson might be a viable option if Valiquette is not.

Better or worse on special teams?

IMO: They have to be better on the power play because it’s impossible to be worse. Gaborik, Prospal and Gilroy are automatic upgrades. So will be Kotalik, and if he stays, Del Zotto. The penalty kill may not be quite as good, but it won’t be bad. Look for more aggressive kills with skilled forwards taking chances and scoring short-handed goals.

Better or worse overall?

IMO: John Tortorella is as important as Gaborik and Lundqvist. He names his new alternate captains today. He has put in a puck-pressure system that will be fun to watch, could possibly blow up in their faces some nights, and might get the most out of the skaters they have. I look for Chris Drury and Wade Redden, who will combine to earn $16 million in actual salary this season, to rebound — Drury more than Redden. I think Dubinsky will have a breakout year. But Tortorella has to deliver on his promise of accountability, of no excuses, of “just get things done.” We’ll see.

What do you guys think?

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59 Comments

  1. Agreed on everything Carp. Just for the sheer fact that they have four youngsters (Anisimov, Gilroy, Del Zotto, Lisin) joining the team and learning at this level with the possibility of guys like Grachev, Sangs, and maybe even a guest appearance by Potter, Sauer, etc. and that Dubi, Cally and the gang are proven.

    They’re not gonna win the Cup this year, but they’ll be competitive and should get to round 2 of the Big Dance.

  2. ThisYearsModel on

    My biggest concern is Lundqvist burnout. Tortorella won the cup with Khabibulin, who was able to withstand all the odd-man rushes his system allows. Once he no longer had an elite goalie……they went down the tubes. So will the rangers if hank gets tired. the games should be ebtertaining though.

  3. Here is how I rank our new guy and old guys:

    New:
    1. Gaborik
    2. Higgins
    3. Anisimov
    4. Kotalik
    5. Prospal
    6. Lisin
    7. Boyle
    8. Brashear

    Old:
    1. Gomez
    2. Zherdev
    3. Antropov
    4. Naslund
    5. Betts
    6. Sjostrom
    7. Korpikoski
    8. Orr

    I think our top 4 guys this year are better than our top 4 from last year, but I like 5-7 guys from last year better. Brashear is an obvious upgrade over Orr.

    Defense is the big question mark to me. Our D will obviously provide a whole lot more offense this year with Gilroy and Del Zotto replacing Mara and Morris, I am worried like everyone else how they will hold up defensively over the course of an 82 game season.

  4. Nice post Carpy!!!!!!

    LETS GO RANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Can’t wait for tomorrow night, hopefully Crosby doesn’t take a dive during the banner raising.

  5. theprospectpark on

    ThisYearsModel hit the main key for the season right on the head: Lundqvist. 3 seasons in a row Lundqvist has played 70+ games and now he plays a system where he will face even more odd man rushes.

    If the Rangers want to have any hope of anything then Lundqvist should play about 55-60 games thanks to the Olympics. If he has to play 70 games then you are playing with fire and by the time the end of the season comes; Lundqvist will be out of gas.

    Vally has to give the coaching staff reason to believe he can play more than 12-15 games a season or else get someone who can in there.

    To me though I think the bottom line is Tortorella as this is not Tampa Bay where his at times immature antics with the media, with the fans and with his own players went mostly unnoticed.

    Tortorella needs to coach the team not point fingers, not blame others or repeat anything like the playoff incident. If Tortorella concentrates on coaching not sound bytes then the Rangers will have a very good year.

    But if Tortorella pulls some of his stunts like accusing the media (Brashear), mishandling development (Sauer) or not realizing that he is dealing with a fan base that has a higher hockey IQ than what he is used to dealing with then things will turn ugly.

    Be the teacher Torts, there are some talented kids who need your guidance coach, the media or fans can’t teach them only you can.

  6. Happy bday to me! Give me a win for my bday Rangers. my little bro just gave me one of his “old ” computers and a “pirate” cable modem. I am living large tonight.

    Guess I will be getting that hockeystreams after all.

  7. sorry carp for the slow response but i’ve always worn #5 for the almighty ulf

    the one huge glaring hole i see that this line up has had and hasn’t come close to filling is a bone cruncher on the blue line. so lets look at the 6th and 7th d spot. i’d love to see dz stick and knock it out of the park. but he is no crease clearer. and if dz is sent packing we’ll have semonov (spelling) despite his size he doesn’t fit the bill either….. maybe just maybe this year we can use our deeper farm system and junior players to get that role filled via trade……..

  8. Oh and we are definitely better. Gaborik amd Higgins – thats worth two Gomez’s right there.

  9. paulieplatypus on

    Hey Chuck Woolery, you gotta start hosting that dating game show of yours again asap. The divorce rate % has gone up off the charts since your show left the airwaves.

  10. Happy birthday Tomb!

    Avery and Madonna are a match made in heaven – he interned at Vogue, she sang Vogue. The could’ve had fun with it, if the writers had used their brains.

    Know this is going to sound awfully cliché but there’s a lot of ifs we’re banking on for this season. Hopefully they’ll break our way. But hope always springs eternal on day 1. Drop the puck already! LGR!!

  11. onecupin69yearsand counting on

    The team should be better than last years edition, but how much better?
    I like the young guys on D-,I think rozival and redden will tire and will be minus’s .You need a fast D, not slow.

    Also the hitting has to pick up, especially Staal, he’s too polite..he needs to get nasty.

    I think they’ll need some time to gel, so I don’t expect a fast start.. just a steady ,well played pace and don’t beat themselves.
    I don’t mind losing to better talent,but Torts better send messages early to lazy , error prone players.
    The trouble with free agents is that they come to the Rangers and go on vacation.

    And they have to be injury free.

  12. Carp,

    So whats ur prediction? 6th? 7th? 8th? in the east with a 1st or 2nd round exit????

    I have said all summer long watch out for this team…I know Pitts and Phily are very good but I really think the Devils are going to struggle this year. I think we finish 5th in the conference and if Henrik comes rolling into the playoffs and some of the vets are feeling confident we are gonna be a very very tough out. I am one of the few but I truly believe Redden will be good in TORTS’s style (ie pinching in at the right time and taking a few high percentage chances in the offensive zone)Rozsival is going to have a good offensive year because TORTS is going to demand Michael to use his slapshot and the one time shot when he has the opportunity and this is going to help his confidence on the defensive side of the puck….(We are a scrappier/more talented team with guys like callahan and higgins and yes even BRASHEAR doing the dirty work in front and this will lead to more UGLY/DIRTY goals……it all starts less than 12 hrs to go….i know i know from MY LIPS TO GODS EARS-LETS ALL PRAY

    LETS GO RANGERS
    LETS GO RANGERS
    LETS GO RANGERS

  13. And This One Will Last A Lifetime on

    Carp…We Agree. They are better on Offense, they are better offensively on Defense, they should be better on the PP, they are the same or better on defense and goaltending.
    AND they have better coaching (one that has actually won a Stanley Cup fairly recently).

    We don’t have that Superstar like Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, Thornton, etc..a top 10 overall player in the league. But we got youth.

    I see Chicago and the Rangers in the finals many times over the next several years.

  14. off subject here, but does anyone know what happened to versus HD on time warner cable in nyc? couldn’t find it last night and since the rangers are on it for monday’s game…it would be nice to know.

    thanks

  15. Jim,

    Time Warner Shuffled a bunch of channels over the summer. VERSUS HD is channel 481 now no longer 794

  16. “We don’t have that Superstar like Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, Thornton, etc..a top 10 overall player in the league.”

    I don’t know. Gaborik CAN be that guy. When he’s healthy, he’s definitely in the top 10 in the league as a scorer.

  17. And This One Will Last A Lifetime on

    Charlie:
    I love Gabby but he is not top 10 material. 400 points in 500 games = 65 points per year

    Top 8 scorers will all have over 90 points, top 10 over 85 for sure.

    Malkin/Ovechkin/Crosby/Datsyuk/Kovalchuk/Iginla/Getzlaf/Savard/Backstrom/Thornton/etc

  18. I swear Im gonna go to sleep soon. soon as my girfriend gets here probably. Just gotta set that alarm for game time

  19. Good morning Carp and all.

    Excellent post!

    The two things that stick out to me most are:

    “They have to be better on the power play because it’s impossible to be worse.”

    Truer words were never spoken. For this team to really succeed, they are going to have to have a good PP. The penalty kill will be fine, and I expect that the PP will be much better, now that we have some people that are not afraid to shoot the puck, and two more than capable PP quarterback defensemen.

    And the other thing that stands out to me that Carp said, and this is a big MUST, is:

    “But Tortorella has to deliver on his promise of accountability, of no excuses, of “just get things done.”

    Players on this team need to feel that push, they need to feel that they have to perform at the highest level possible. They have to feel that, no matter who they are, that they can be replaced by a call up, or that they will get less playing time. If Torts is a man of his word, and he hasn’t given me a reason to think he isn’t, I think he will deliver when it comes to accountability.

    I AM PSYCHED FOR NYR HOCKEY TONIGHT!!!!!!

    LET’S GO RANGERS!!!!!!!!!

  20. Hockeyman Rangers on

    I am also just a little bit concerned with Lundqvist. And not so much with him tiring as how he does with Torts style of play, no more do we have the defensive type game. He is going to face a lot more break aways, this is somewhat new to him as his entire NHL career he has been under MR. Defense himself Tom Renny. Other than the last part of last season. It might take him awhile to adapt. Over all though I really can not see this team do any worse than last year. I sure hope it doesn’t, but remember all you boneheads give them at least 10 games before you come on here bitching that this team sucks and will not do any thing this year. I myself will give them a few more than that.
    My question is, why do all these commentaters think that the Flyers are running away with the east? I just don’t see it. I have heard several of them say it’s going to be a P.A. fight for the east division. I sure hope not B/C I live to close to Philly and you all know these Philly fans are a pain in the _ss.
    OK enough about that, The Rangers are going to give the PUICKY PENS Champions there first loss TONIGHT. GO RANGERS

  21. and this one- yea gabby is not a top 10 player, but hes definitelybetter than backstrom and probably better than savard if playing an 82 game season. maybe he wont get as many points as savard, but hes top ten when it comes to goal scoring.he wont get as many assists, so that will drag his stats down a little. pure goal scoring ability, he has the talent to be in top 10 in goal scoring and ability. maybe not top 10, but hes at least in the top 15 or 20 when healthy. and its still the best guy weve had since jagr. maybe playing in torts system will turn him into a top 10 player though. and hes also better in his own end than most people think. not like datsyuk but still one of the better elite fwds that play 2 way hockey

  22. Carp, I also think we are better than last year. I can’t wait to see what Higgins can do, I remember always yelling at the TV during the Montreal games at him. I think he is a solid player.

    I also want to see how DZ does compared to Rozi and Girardi. If DZ gets sent down and the other 2 are still playing awful I do not want to hear the torts commercial where he says I don’t like Rhetoric or excuses just get the job done anymore.

  23. Adam – Game is on NHL Network tonight. That may be why you don’t see it as a Center Ice game.

  24. idk y theyre all gaga over philly. they really think emery is that much better than biron? idk. pronger will help yes, but cmon, theyre not runnin away with the east. they’ll be a top 4 seed thouh. i know they’ll probably be 2nd right behind pitts in our division. i think this season will be very exciting and great to see the kids develop and score more goals than last few years, but it still, all falls on hanks shoulders, and unless hank has a better season than last year, we’ll still be fighting for playoff spot by late march. but imo, this season is almost a transition. were getting 2 rookies on D, and a whole new lineup of fwds. theyre will be growing pains and we may not finish as high as we like or thought. still, it will be fun, no matter what, and lets hope gabby and hank both stay healthy and play their top game. anisimov could be a breakout star on this team and will have alot of offense to bring too.

  25. im stoked for the season but i don’t have much in the way of expectations.

    let’s go blueshirts!

  26. I also, don’t know what ALL the fuss is about Philly. Chris Pronger is a good defenseman. He is not the best defenseman in the league by far though. He also, is a “star” player, that is a pretty dirty player. People pigeon hole Brashear as dirty, and he is, but what is Pronger? And let’s not forget that this is the same Pronger that Nigel Dawes, NIGEL DAWES, completely undressed last year. People are handing the Flyers the cup because they signed Chris Pronger. I just don’t agree. Yeah, he is good, but I don’t think Pronger=Cup. I am not taking anything away from the Flyers, as I do think they are a good team, but I am not seeing them as ELITE as many people are.

  27. inhankwetrust on

    finally…..gameday! any idea what time torts is naming the A’s? The ranger game isn’t on Center Ice tonight because it is being broadcast on NHL network nationally…

  28. Greg_Section_403 on

    Love Dubi’s quote in Brooks’ article today. Here’s a guy willing to step up and be a leader:

    “I can’t hide behind that ‘young thing,’ as an excuse,” said Dubinsky, who is primed to center Vinny Prospal and the brilliant Marian Gaborik. “I’m no rookie, so to me they’re young guys and I’m not.

    “I’ve got to be one of the guys leading the way.”

    http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/rangers/rangers_face_pens_on_banner_night_AYYJSyBD3lJrr0XAmNQTZJ

  29. Morning all! Great day for hockey isn’t it? Now I just have to find a way to watch it. Still no cable in the new house… :(

  30. Morning Carp!
    Nice post!
    I was shocked they picked Philly too…They may have improved a little but they still have the same problem they always have…goaltending!

  31. A bit more about the youth on our team; I love the talk TOrts is giving about playing kids and how you grow as a team when you play youth and stick with your kinds. When Sather 1st got here and started signing all those free agent star players, and you can all know the names, I think us fans were all sick and tired of the Lindros’, Bures, et al coming here for the money and begged to see our kids. Well, now we have a chance to see our kids develope in the NHL and it’s all good!!! Can’t wait to see it because we weren’t winning teh Cup with Jags and all the Czech players Sather complimnented him with, and we weren’t winnng the Cup with the array of over-paid guys from the last 2 years so, let’s see how the kids do under Torts!! Pray the Olympics don’t sap Henrik of his sharpness!! By the way, to the guy who was wondering about the effect of Torts’ system on Henrik, he is one of the best goalies against the breakaway so I think we’ll be okay!! The Rangers will be exciting to watch and the youth will only get better!!!

  32. I’m thinking Torts has a difficult decision to make on A’s. Does he go and give them to 2 of Staal/Dubi/Cally or does he mix it up and give one to a young guy and one to Gabby or Prospal or does he do the home/road switcheroo?

    Either way i’m so pleased the season is starting today, its been a long wait – lets put the Ice Chickens to the sword and spoil the celebration!!

  33. Thanks, Carp! Great post. So, in your book everything is better, but overall- will see? Hmmm, sounds like pretty typical cautious Rangers fan, like me. I think that deep inside you ARE secretly rooting for them.

    The truth is, we made so many predictions on this website, somebody will be right. It all doesn’t matter. All it matters that the hockey is back!
    PS. I actually liked MDZ in “cuarenta y tres” better. Have fun, everybody.

  34. Love it that I’m back in the blog groove!

    I was watching some ESPN and Versus coverage last night, and the list of Cup contenders is the same among most of the “experts.” Most of them are hard to disagree with: Pens, ‘Hawks, Caps, Sharks. But a lot of people really like the Flyers. Really?! With RAY EMERY in net? Sorry, that automatically disqualifies them from any consideration for the Cup.

    As for the Rangers, I’m cautiously optimistic. Over the past few years I’ve admittedly drank a lot of Kool-Aid and paid the price for it. I think their best shot to win it was 2 seasons ago, but that team took too long to gel and blew that 3 goal lead in Pittsburgh in Game 1.

    Anyway, I agree with Carp’s preview. This team is better. It should score more goals, and Hank in net means you always have a chance to win. I think this is a playoff team, but probably another team that finishes in the bottom half of the draw and gets eliminated in the first or second round.

    But it’s too early for that. LET’S GO RANGERS!!!

  35. They'll be much better on

    Let’s face it: They were lucky to get into the playoffs last year as constituted.

    Sure Gaborik is A key, but really the player I’m watching is Anisimov. Everyone sees how well Callahan and Dubinsky have progressed after their stints in the minors. This guy put up far better numbers offensively than either of them, and is also defensively responsible. Given the chance HE will be the best Center on the Team.

    If that occurs then there will be three lines that can legitimately score, and a World Class Goalie.

    The underlying factor will be how Tortorella handles a team that will likely take time to establish themselves.

    Will he push too hard? Will he give too much lee-way to Redden and Roszival? Will he put the right lines together? We’ll see…

  36. Have to DVR the game to watch later tonight, hope the boys do well. I hope all of you have a crease clearing hard hitting physical d man game day and night!!!!!

  37. Goaltending will be worse because Steve V will be playing more games than last year. Defense should be much better because Redden will be forced to play better .(He actually is now) . The whole key to the season is the power play and Del Zotto. I think it will be a work in progress for at least the first half of the season. Anyway should be fun to watch even if we see all sorts of adjustments. May see Giardi or Rosival packaged if Rangers struggle. Also how about one of the three Hartford goalies being called up later.

  38. I honestly think the key to success this season lies with secondary scoring as much as it does Gaborik. When you really stop to think about it, as far as an improvement goes over last year, all Gabby needs to do is pot 20 goals and 58 points to match Gomez. Gabby has been a point a game player his whole career, he could put those stats up while missing a significant portion of the season. If he stays healthy, or even thrives under system that Torts has, he could in theory explode for 90 or 100+. The keys to success this year will be guys like Enver Lisin and Anisimov having good years and putting up some numbers. We all see every spring how the teams that rely on 1 or 2 guys for goals get bounced fast and the teams that are a scoring threat with every line change go deep.

  39. Wicky-me too w/DVR although I might get home in time for the 3rd.

    Carp-Excellent post, thanks for keeping us into it all summer long. I’m pretty confident with the team. We all know you have to build within and it looks like Sather is finally believing it also. I hope to make the playoffs and put up a nice fight to the 2nd or 3rd round. Then set the table for a cup run next year and many after that. I’m also very curious about how Torts will handle Rozi. If he keeps putting up garbage, Torts can’t keep putting him out there and critize anybody else. I really think Rozi is done and should not be on the team. Do a Nylander with him and let him find another deal. I already like Higgins and expect him to hit his stride after the holidays. Dubi gets 25 and Cally does about the same. I’ve only seen Gaborik a handful of times. Everybody on here told me what a dynamic player he is when healthy. I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’d like to keep MDZ all season long. It’s all about peaking as a team at the right moment. I wont panick at a 5 game losing streak in December. I want 5 game winning streaks in March. Hockey season, YES!!!!!!

    Lets go Rangers!!!!

  40. Great post Carp….Gaborik I think will be the key.
    Excited to see Gilroy and Del Zotto….concerned about Rozival, guy has no sense of urgency to the puck.

    Question, any of u know a good web site to get some old Rangers calls for a ring tone?
    You know like Matteau or Messier by Howie Rose?

    Just curious

  41. best day of the year, opening day of the regular season wahoooo! drop the puck! ice the beers!

    who scores the first NYR goal? i’m thinking cally instead of gaborik.

  42. Rick,

    I know you did not want to get a back lashing so you couldnt state your true feelings but you cant possibly really think the Rangers Defense is better this year. Again Gabby is a big IF but again you can’t possibly think the Rangers offense is better this year. Be honest man. This team is in shambles! Lets see tonight!

    Stanley cup to NEW JERSEY!

    p.s.

    I love Rosen’s “this one will last a life time comment”..just like 1940..the 1994 Will be the last of most of our Lifetime!

  43. Gaborik not top 10? Only Ovechkin has scored more goals per game since the lockout. And only Kovalchuk has more impact goals.

    Lets not also forget that Gaborik was playing in a defense first system and still managed to score a lot of goals.

    Yes I think its safe to say he’s a top 10 talent in the NHL. The biggest difference is that when people pencil in players like Backstrom or Savard is that they are much more reliant on other players for their points. Gaborik can score those measly 65 points with very will help. And on an offensive team with depth like the Rangers it will be obvious just how much he’s been stifled by the MN defense first system.

  44. I Think that basically you’ve called it right. I still don’t find anything positive about Roszival at all. Nothing new or different -still the same old same old. He just doesn’t have it.

    The jury is still out on most of them. Tonight will tell the tale for some of them.

    Ton

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