Good morning Rangers fans! Here is a brief introduction about me, which will hopefully put everything I say into some kind of context. Like many of you, I am a diehard Rangers fan, avid reader of Carps’ blog, season ticket holder, and a fan since birth. My first Rangers memory is the 1994 Stanley Cup and all of the hoopla that went along with that. I was 5 years old when the Rangers won the cup and have been riding this wave ever since. As we prepare for the next chapter in Rangers history, lockout pending, here are my thoughts and expectations.
1) Great Expectations: Will this be the year that Rangers win the Cup? Whether or not they do this, expectations will be at an all time high. After finishing first in the Eastern Conference, making a significant run in the postseason, acquiring the best goal scorer on the market (via free agency or trade), and another year of experience for our young core, fans will be will be expecting the same as last year, but with six more wins in May/June. Is this fair? Maybe, but it is what it is.
2) Rick Nash: Just how good is Rick Nash? Ever since acquiring him, I’m sure I’m not the only fan that has been watching YouTube highlights of his best goals every single day. Nash is the real deal and will undoubtedly help with our deficiencies on the power play, scoring goals, and crashing the net. With that said, can Nash take us to that next level? The Rangers were a better team than the Devils last year, but tired themselves out in the first two rounds and only had themselves to blame. A more potent offense will help the Rangers save energy throughout the season and more importantly, in the playoffs. Rick Nash will be the center of this and now that he has a supporting cast, the sky is the limit for him.
3) The D: With a healthy Staal for an entire season, another year under the belts of McDonagh and Del Zotto, and rumors of a potential Sauer return, just how good will this defense be? The Rangers built a brand of hockey last year of playing “The Right Way” and this needs to continue. While we all may dream of Kreider scoring 50 goals and Nash putting up 100 points, this isn’t happening….yet. The Rangers must stick to their roots if they hope to be taking a trip up the Canyon Of Heroes in June. This will be especially harder after losing Pruster and Feds — two players that epitomize the style that Torts preaches.
4) The King: The Rangers have the best goalie on this planet, period. For those who watch all 82 games + playoffs, you know what we have in Hank. Despite our recent acquisitions, Henrik is the backbone of this team and if he can play his game, the Rangers are the favorite to win the cup.
5) Lockout: The NHL and NHLPA better not mess this up. If there is a lockout of any extended time, we will lose a lot of fans. The NHL came back from its last lockout as a better sport (don’t get me started on that skills competition that happens after overtime, though), but it will not be as fortunate this time around.
6) The Kids: I don’t need to list them all, but look at all of the young prospects we have on the roster. If this young core can play to 75 percent of its potential, look out NHL.
7) Predictions: The Rangers are going to be a force in this league for years to come. They are built for the future with the opportunity to win now. John Totorella is one of the best coaches in this league and I have the utmost confidence in him and his staff to bring the Rangers to glory. I predict that the Rangers will be fighting for the Presidents Trophy and finish first or fourth in the East. Once in the playoffs, the whole thing is up for grabs, but the Rangers’ skill and now, experience, will prove to be vital in our quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Recently, a lot of the Cup winners have been teams that were close the year before and used that experience to lift them the year after.
Rangers in 7 over the Kings.
8) Random Thoughts:
a. I’m very curious how the two-bowl configuration will work at The World’s Most Famous. Will The Garden be louder? How will this affect the secondary ticket prices?
b. If the Knicks implode, can the Rangers surpass them as the hottest ticket in town? Doubtful, but here’s to hoping.
c. To all of the fans that yell, “shoot” on the power play: The players want to score just as badly as you want them to. Yes, the power play hasn’t been a strong point, but do you know what happens when you shoot despite there being no shooting lane?
d. TV Timeouts: TV stations shouldn’t be cutting to a commercial break until the play is fully completed. This includes all scrums after the whistle and the announcement of any penalty calls. There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait out a commercial break for something that already happened.
e. Eliminate the shootout. As has been well documented on this site, the shootout has to go. Want to make it more exciting? Have a 4 v 4 overtime and then a 3 v 3 overtime. If no one scores by then, the game should end in a tie.
f. Thank you for this opportunity, Carp. I believe this to be the best Rangers blog on the internet and it is an honor and privilege to contribute.