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Season preview: Five questions
Posted By On January 18, 2013 @ 2:30 am In Hockey,New York Rangers,NHL | 56 Comments
Grittier, or prettier?
The Rangers lost some of their grinding personality in Brandon Prust, Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko, and a big part of their game was battling for every inch of ice. Some of that has been replaced, and Rick Nash will use his big body, too. But this team is very fast now, and maybe will play more of an up-tempo “Safe is Death” style of game that John Tortorella used in Tampa Bay.
What about the power play?
It was a putrid 15.7 percent effective last year (23rd in the NHL) and hasn’t really been good since Wayne Gretzky retired. To be fair, it won a couple of playoff games for them … but it lost a few, too. Nash should certainly help, but the Rangers’ problem is mostly about movement, because you have to move your feet to move the puck. There’s no reason this can’t be fixed, but will it?
How many games will Henrik Lundqvist play?
He played 62 of 82 last year, his best in the NHL, winning the Vezina Trophy with 39 wins, eight shutouts and a 1.97 goals-against average. Martin Biron gave him plenty of rest as one of the league’s best backups. But in a 48-game sprint, couldn’t Lundqvist play 38 or 40 games? He’d want to. With those games played in 99 days, maybe he won’t.
Which Marian Gaborik do the Rangers get?
The one who scored 42 goals his first year in New York, the one who scored 22 his second year, or the one who scored 41 last year. Gaborik has grown as a player, and the lockout gave him time to recover from off-season surgery on a shoulder he hurt in the first round of the playoffs – though he toughed it out through the end.
Who plays on that first line?
There will be times when Nash, Brad Richards and Gaborik are on the ice together. More often, probably, they will split, with Gaborik playing with Derek Stepan and Nash with Richards. That leaves first-line minutes for Ryan Callahan or Chris Kreider or Carl Hagelin … and that means one of those three plays on the third line.
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