Rangers preview Part III: A season of obstacles and challenges

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Renovation. Transportation. Visitation. Commercialization. … Ball of Confusion.

That’s what the Rangers’ season is destined to be. (Apologies to the Temptations).

The 2011-12 season is going to be a challenge, for sure, for a Rangers team looking to jump out of that perennial 7-8-9 seed dogfight in the East, a fight that had them eliminated in a shootout after their final game in 2010, and had them qualify hours after their final game, watching on TV as Tampa Bay beat Carolina last spring.

This year promises to be different on the ice. It sure as heck is going to be different off it. The Rangers will:

A) open their season with two games in Europe as the NHL continues to push its global product;

B) play their first seven games on the road, including a Western Canada trek, as Madison Square Garden undergoes its massive renovation;

C) play in the NHL’s Super Bowl, the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia Jan. 2;

D) and, therefore, be subjected to HBO’s invasive all-access cameras and microphones for the first half of the season, which ought to be a laughtrack once bombastic coach John Tortorella gets annoyed.

Distractions? Only if the Rangers let them be. Excuses? The Rangers promise they won’t look for them, but if the they start slowly or poorly, these would certainly be legit reasons.

It won’t be easy. On the other hand, if the Rangers can handle all of these stepping stones and speed bumps, they can all be team-binding, can all be character builders and revealers.

In 2008-09, the Rangers started the season in Europe, fell apart at midseason, fired coach Tom Renney, hired Tortorella, squeezed into the playoffs and blew a 3-1 lead in a first-round loss to Washington.

But plenty of teams have gone across the ocean to open the season — which is good for hockey, good for the league, good for the teams, and sells loads of merchandise — and had huge success.

Each of the past three Stanley Cup champions — Pittsburgh (‘09), Chicago (‘10) and Boston (‘11) opened their seasons in Europe.

And, you may recall, the 1993-94 Rangers went to England for a two-game preseason series … and that team did OK.

Likewise, the Winter Classic has been a springboard for success, if not immediate, then soon.

Pittsburgh played in the ‘08 Classic and won the Cup the following season; Chicago and Detroit played in the ‘09 Classic, and the Red Wings went to the final that year, the Blackhawks won the Cup the following year. Philadelphia and Boston played in the ‘10 Classic and the Flyers went to the final that year while Boston won the Cup the next year. In ‘11, Pittsburgh and Washington played in the Classic and went nowhere, but maybe this year is the payoff for one of those teams.

At the very least, the whole itinerary ought to be a learning experience for a Rangers team that is still very young, has a new leadership group — first-year captain Ryan Callahan, first-year alternate Brad Richards, second-year alternate Marc Staal, and guys who became leaders without letters last year: Brandon Dubinsky, Brandon Prust, Brian Boyle, Dan Girardi among them.

“This is what we want to do,” Tortorella said. “We have a captain that’s come through our system.”

Does that really matter?

“Absolutely,” he said. “Absolutely. In a cap world, and where we’re at right now, I think it’s huge as far as how (the players) feel about it … how we’re going to go about our business, not just for one year, but as you go along. That’s why I’m excited.”

But expectations come with that excitement. This team should be better than last year, but so should many teams in the East, including some who didn’t make the playoffs last year, and one right across the Hudson River.

“I just want us to grow in all areas,” Tortorella said. “I think we’re in a different level of the process. We’ve kept our kids. Glen (Sather) has done a great job keeping our nucleus and our core. I think they’ve grown. I think they need to continue to grow. We’ve added Mike Rupp, we’ve added Brad Richards, veteran guys. I think we’ve upped our talent level.

“I think we’re in the next step of the process of being the best we can be.”

——————

AP photos.

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Next: Part IV, Leastern and Bestern Conference predictions.

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144 Comments

  1. in case Tony comes around

    yeah,
    i’ll have to send you some pics from earlier shows.

    if you don’t receive an email in a week
    don’t hesitate to remind me
    (just juggling things so my slack-aasen mind tends to forget)

  2. Excited for the season to start tomorrow, but there’s still going to be a pre-season feel to watching these overseas games, especially with the early start times. Hopefully they stay over .500 before coming back to the Garden on the 27th. Can’t wait to greet them with 18,000 of my closest friends…

  3. I just youtubed this guy Woywitka the rangers claimed off waivers and all i saw was Woywitka picking fights and losing badly every one of them. i wonder if he and weisse went to the same hockey school of fighting.

  4. the Brooks piece where he talks to Sather about Avery was somewhat interesting. but I think as the GM, Sather can’t make a statement like “Sean Avery won’t be on the roster again.” a blowhard like Tortorella who for all of his babbling isn’t part of management can basically say what he wants and leave it for the executives to smooth over. I personally don’t expect to ever see Sean Avery in a New York Rangers uniform again, but for a general manager of the team to insinuate in any way that an organization is knowingly burying a player could open them up to labor disputes. the blowhard coach can just be a blowhard because he’s not “technically” in charge of team policy.

  5. iwicky, from what I saw on youtube, he can’t fight to save his life. How he plays defense, well, not sure.

  6. There’s quite a healthy book of people betting that Sean Avery won’t ever be in any NHL team’s uniform again.

  7. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© " Don't stepan the logo!!!"...says Greg L. on

    I CAN’T WAIT TILL TOMORROW !!!!!

    GO RANGERS!!!!!!

    YEAH baby , this year is our year!!! Playing in europe , Winter classic….yeah it looks like wesa winnin the cup folks!!!

    Seriously now , we are winning the cup. You heard it here first!!!

  8. I don’t expect much out of Woywitka either, but exactly what kind of YouTube highlights are you hoping to find for a third-pair, journeyman defensive D-man?

    “Knowingly burying a player”, Lloyd? Right decision or wrong, the team is perfectly within its rights to waive Avery and assign him to CT (or consent to him finding a team elsewhere). It’s hardly a Redden/Huet type situation.

  9. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© " Don't stepan the logo!!!"...says Greg L. on

    HO HO HO where do we go…? To the top!!!!! Climb that ladder and snuff out ” one and done” Boston Bruins!!!! That team , bahhhhh can’t hold a candle to our guys. Last year ..maybe but this year were walkin all the way to the bank!! Bank it baby cuz our team is MONEY!!!

  10. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© " Don't stepan the logo!!!"...says Greg L. on

    NA NA NA NA hey hey we are back!!!!! Im back!!! Season is back !!! Back in the NEW YORK Grooove!!!

    LETS GO RANGERS!!!!!!!

  11. busy couple of days, i can’t wait for real games. instead of all the hullabaloo over the 13th forward and 7th defenseman. too bad the rangers kick off the season while i’m working. now to avoid hearing or seeing the score til i get home and watch it on the dvr…………..dot.

  12. JimboWoodside on

    Interesting, ORR – I did not know that! Why? Is it related to the Czech-Slovak thing, or just based on past rivalries on the ice?

  13. Jimbo, I’m not sure, but apparently Chara hates the guy. In fact, rumor has it, he didn’t sign with NYR because he doesn’t like him.

    Shame! Imagine if we spent our money on Chara instead of Dredden? Hmm…

  14. JimboWoodside on

    Hi Manny – doing well here – hope all is good with you, too! How’s your little friend? Will he be sitting with you watching the game tomorrow? ;-D

    OK, ORR – I didn’t know those guys had a “history” with each other. Thanks for the “back-story”.

    I’ve always felt that Chara was one of those guys who would manage to never be a part of a Cup winning team, despite being so highly touted as a “monster”, but this past spring he proved me wrong! We definitely would have done better with him than Redden, though!

  15. I will be stuck at WORK tomorrow! ARGH..or as liz lemon says “blergh.” I will be listening without mice.

  16. JimboWoodside on

    Sorry, Manny – I forgot that it’s an afternoon game! Dammit, we shouldn’t have a season-opening game on in the afternoon – that sucks!

    Isn’t tomorrow the start of the High Holiday? You’ll be at work?

  17. JimboWoodside on

    The Leafs are introducing every goofball on their team, including the stickboys – this game won’t start anytime soon, either!!

  18. hey ORR!!!!
    give an update to when they’re really going to drop the puck

    btw,
    toronto vs montreal is on center ice
    which is free preview time
    for now

  19. JimboWoodside on

    It would be great to see Bryzgalov give up an early, cheap goal just to show Philthy that their goaltending streak isn’t over yet!

  20. On the positive side Cablevision is showing the Center Ice preview, They didn’t last year. So I guess me calling the phone rep. a corksoaker hit a nerve.

  21. JimboWoodside on

    Hahaha!!! I bet it did, BANJ! Even if it had nothing to do with the Center Ice policy!

  22. Yea tomorrow is Yom Kippur. I stopped doing anything “Jewish” about 2 years ago. I am a machine of our corporate government now.

  23. Carp

    Thanks for your review! i liked it and i am 99% sure that i agree with you.

    i especially liked this part: “Pittsburgh played in the ‘08 Classic and won the Cup the following season; Chicago and Detroit played in the ‘09 Classic, and the Red Wings went to the final that year, the Blackhawks won the Cup the following year. Philadelphia and Boston played in the ‘10 Classic and the Flyers went to the final that year while Boston won the Cup the next year. In ‘11, Pittsburgh and Washington played in the Classic and went nowhere, but maybe this year is the payoff for one of those teams.”

    maybe, just maybe…eh?

  24. JimboWoodside on

    OK, Manny – I was just wondering…..a “machine”, eh!?

    Well, Philthy made up their deficit pretty quickly – and Jags didn’t waste any time getting his point.

    Giroux – another “find” for Philthy…..they keep coming up with them…..

  25. 2006 NHL Draft

    #21 Bob Sanguinetti (Defense) United States New York Rangers Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

    #22 Claude Giroux (Right Wing) Canada Philadelphia Flyers Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

    sigh…

  26. They waited until 8:12 p.m., LW?

    2-0 Tigers … maybe I can watch the New York Rangers instead of the Arlington Rangers next week.

  27. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© " Don't stepan the logo!!!"...says Greg L. on

    I AM PUMPED , BIGTIME!!!!!

    WOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Ranger tommorow ,Rangers tomorrow!!!!!!!!

    YES!!! YES!!!! YES!!!

    Go Jagrrrrrr , kinda….all ’bout the Rangers baby!!!

  28. Eric, don’t jump to conclusions! Ours might be worse! LOL!

    Jagr does look good. But, it’s game 1 of 82, so we’ll see if he can physically keep up. Bryzgalov is looking good as well, but he’s still a playoff ghost!

  29. just letting you all know you all get free nhl preview of center ice from oct 6th till oct 23rd

  30. JimboWoodside on

    Good start for the Habs! May there be many more like tonight for them throughout the season.

  31. onecupin72yearsandcounting on

    “HOW NOT TO MANAGE AND COACH ” is brought to you by the NY YANKEES and Joe Gerardi
    Author of Doom and gloom .

  32. Orr, you generate points when your players get PIMs, goals, or assists, I think. Go to your team page and it will tell you how many points you have….

  33. iWicky (Leeloo Dallas mul-ti-pass) on

    Someone please let me know if there is any good chara on jagr crime. I’m still at work!

    TYIA!!

  34. Damn! Little Giroux throwing an elbow along the boards! Evverybody that puts on that Flys uniform becomes a thug…..

    NYR, it just makes me sad……I wanted him to finish his career in Russia, not here in our division!

  35. Mmmdda, Giroux, who reminds me Parise, is creative little beast. Jagr, big and heavy, if not so dominant and slow indeed by nowadays NHL standards, but still can do a lot of damage. Bryz, unfortunately looks just great. Sad day for me – hate Philties immeasurably, seamed much better than my expectation was and won deservedly. I understand, you can’t come to the big conclusion by one first game, but first impression usually right. Want to see now Pissburgh without Crybaby are they really that deep in talent and will. It will be tough division this Atlantic.

  36. LOL! I picked my players carefully!!

    I wonder if the dopey Vancouver fans will still call him “Dale the Whale”, like we did…

  37. 4ever, I think I agree with you – although the Flys goalies always fall apart in the playoffs, not necessarily during the regular season, so give Bryz some time, he may not disappoint us!

    I think our division is gonna be a real dogfight this season – every team looks better “on paper”, Devs have Parise back, Isles have Nabokov (if he keeps it together), Flys look pretty good…and Crysby isn’t going to be out forever…..we have a *lot* of competition for a playoff spot this season.

  38. now Manny Malhotra, thats a tough one. I still think it would’ve been hard to keep either of them considering the circumstances. There are ex-Rangers all over the NHL

  39. ORR

    Go to league settings from the main page and you will see how many points you get for each category. It is in your interest to have players in the lineup every night. You can use waiver wire but there is a limit on how many players you can add or drop per match up which you can also see by going to the league settings. Remember, each match up is one week long.

  40. This is a real lousy way to start the season – in Europe, then back to North America but needing to be on a long road trip due to the Garden renovations….I just hope we don’t start the season in a big hole….

  41. There’s Higgins, too – Weise, Higgins, Malhotra…any more ex-Rangers on Vancouver!? Samuelsson?

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