Good morning! I figured I’d start by introducing myself for those who don’t know me. I comment from time to time when work and life permit but I visit all of you as a reader at least seven times a day during the season and once or twice a day during the off-season.
As for my Ranger fandom, when I was born 31+ years ago, my folks had four season tickets in the old green seats. By 1994, when I was 13, we were in Section 132 directly behind the 7th Avenue net. Today, my wife and I sit in new Section 114 near the 8th Avenue goal for about 30 games a year plus the playoffs.
So with the background out of the way, here are some random thoughts and potential discussion topics on the coming season, my personal Rangers-related pet peeves and the overall experience of being a Ranger fan (in no particular order).
– I think, assuming no major injuries this season, that anything less than a return trip to the Conference Finals and likely a place in the Cup Final is the expectation for the season. Sather has addressed the glaring need for scoring with the Nash acquisition; if Sauer can stay healthy, we are gaining a top four D man without giving anything up; perhaps Stralman can continue the growth on the PP that we saw in the playoffs; Kreider will continue to provide speed and scoring and I think our fourth line has gotten more dangerous and effective through the various acquisitions; all that said, In Hank We Trust
– I can’t stand Joe Micheletti. Not only is he a big homer, but I feel like he’s turned Sam Rosen into more of a homer since he replaced JD. Just one small example, when Marty Biron was really struggling late last season, Joe went out of his way to turn standard, must-make saves into heroic, epic feats of goaltending and then Sam just agrees with him. I know perhaps that I am not the norm but I always loved New York’s local broadcasts (not just hockey) for being more objective and more professional than so many of the clowns who call local broadcasts across the country (see Beninati, Joe and the Caps and Harrelson, Hawk and the White Sox) and I feel like Joe M diminishes the Rangers telecasts by being such a homer.
– I hope everyone has realistic expectations for Chris Kreider this season. He was inarguably an offensive spark during the playoffs, perhaps even our most dangerous forward at times. In addition, given that he’s become our untouchable No. 1 in trade negotiations it is only natural for expectations to go through the roof. On a cautionary note though, playing 82 games, going through the ups and downs of a season, battling bumps and bruises, taking 82 games worth of contact, the travel, etc. can be grueling on everyone; even Hank has a slump at least once a year. So to expect Kreids to come into the lineup and produce a 60-70 point season is crazy IMHO. If he scores 20 goals and 50 points this year but makes strides in the defensive game, can become a tenacious PK’er, and matures as the year goes on, I think it would be a more than successful season for him.
– I hate people who sit in front of me and stand up in excited anticipation every time the rangers carry the puck across the red line. MSG is spending almost $1 billion to completely re-do the Garden including new sightlines that are far superior to the old configuration. One of the benefits of these improved sightlines is that one can see the whole ice perfectly from one’s seat without getting up every 10 seconds and blocking the view of folks sitting behind them. Look, I’m not saying one should never stand up spontaneously during an odd-man rush (for or against) but every time a D-man makes one move at the red-line, the crowd buzzes, people immediately jump out of their seats only for the D-man to inevitably go off-side or turn the puck over. Perhaps this isn’t as big a problem upstairs where there are fewer non-season ticket holders, but it’s ridiculous and annoying.
– I love John Amirante and his anthem. He is the only one who is accompanied by the organ during his anthem(s), the pace of his anthem has slowed dramatically over the past several years and the power in the voice has noticeably waned. Still, no one else gets the crowd going the way he does.
– Speaking of anthems, I get goose bumps every time I watch a Canadian crowd sing along to O Canada. Why don’t we do that?
– I’ll be fascinated to see if any kids can make the roster this year. With Gaborik out until November (assuming the season starts on time), there should be a spot for at least one of the forwards to start the season with the big club (either JT, Bourque or Thomas). I always feel like when a kid makes an impact, like Hags did last season, it gives the whole team a boost.
– Once we have a full roster though, it will be interesting to see what Torts does with the line combos…because with Gabby, Richie, Nash, Hags, Kreider, Stepan and Cally, we have seven “top six” forwards (assuming no other moves are made)
– Finally, thank you to Carp for giving me this opportunity to write for one of my favorite blogs and can’t wait for a new season to start and spend a part of it with all of you.