Five storylines, five questions about the Rangers’ season

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Five questions facing the Rangers this season:

1. Can/will Brad Richards rebound? He was not in shape because of the lockout last season. That’s not an issue this season. He lost the confidence of his coach (who nevertheless gave him enormous lengths of leash until the end). That’s not an issue this season. He is, though, facing the prospect of being bought out again next summer. He’s playing for his career, really.

2. Will the Rangers score enough goals? Coach Alain Vigneault’s system is supposed to allow them to have the puck more and be more creative with it. But outside of Rick Nash, they don’t have a legitimate 30-to 35-goal scorer on the roster. If Richards doesn’t bounce back, and if Derick Brassard plays the way he did in Columbus rather than the way he played after joining the Rangers last season, and if the power play struggles again, they’ll have a tough time contending.

3. Are they tough enough? This gets asked of this team a lot. Fact is, in their best season in decades — 2011-12 — they were the meanest, toughest, fighting-est team in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. Last season, they were buttery soft. And outside of adding Derek Dorsett, that part of the game has not been addressed.

4. What about Henrik Lundqvist? Yeah, that’s probably a crazy question, but he’s in a contract year. He has said he doesn’t want his contract situation to become a distraction, and he said Wednesday that he will not address it again. Like all goalies, he’s going to play with smaller pads this season. And, most of all, he’s going to play behind a team that doesn’t block nearly as many shots or emphasize defense as much as the Rangers did under former coach John Tortorella. It would be shocking, though, if Lundqvist isn’t his usual spectacular self.

5. What about the road trip? Starting the season with nine straight on the road — after playing six preseason games on the road while the final stage of Madison Square Garden’s renovation is completed — is certainly going to be a challenge. Still, the Rangers went through this the last time there was a season not delayed by a lockout, and they used that as a bonding experience. They embraced the challenge. They won their division, nearly won the Presidents’ Trophy and went to the Eastern Conference final. Can they do it again?

Twitter: @RangersReport

Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images.

 

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63 Comments

  1. I see that you used some of my language in that there post, Carp. That don’t make you the best but it makes you a bit better than the rest of these no good jelly legged down and dirty raggedy clowns!

  2. They are *not* tough enough. I can tell you that much. Richards will bounce back. Brassard will disappear mid season. They will not score enough. Hank will be exceptional. The road trip will be fine because all teams are just getting their legs. Home ice less of an advantage now and more of an advantage later.

    That’s my two cents.

  3. Shoot the puck Barry on

    Welcome back to Hockey!

    I am concerned while Cally and Hagelin are out they won’t be able to score enough. A 3-6 road trip won’t kill them this year, though– seems like last year we were fighting uphill after a slow start to a shortened season.

    I also think AV may be more likely to give the youngest a chance to stick, particularly if they have scoring ability. I’m excited to see Fast, Miller, etc. play. Kreider is a big question mark– what is he going to be long-term?

    Having a healthy Marc Staal is going to make a huge difference this year– you just watch. Let’s hope he stays healthy!

  4. Finish 6th in division. Miss playoffs. We all wish for gaborik back. Brassard will disappear. Hank tests the market. Isles offer huge contract. Hank decides he loves rangers too much comes back. Girardi leaves team for huge payday.
    No one wants to buy any tix from me. That said must win tonite.

  5. Brad will bounce back… like a bowling ball.

    I think the Rangers will score more goals, not a whole lot, any improvement here will seem like a lot.

    I still don’t see this group being real tough, maybe if Cally and Dorsett lead the way.

    Henrik will still be our best player.

    The road trip should be a positive, unless they lose a whole bunch. This team is still as goold or better than the one that finished the regular season so well.

    I am psyched for gamenight!

  6. “This team is still as goold or better than the one that finished the regular season so well.

    I am psyched for gamenight!”

    Tomb, that’s a good point! Get Cally and hags back and I agree 100%

    I’m pysched too!!!

  7. New York Rangers rules! Puck Fhoenix! Call ZzZzGreg!…for hype and to pump an excitement.

  8. Rob in Beantown on

    This is awesome:

    Rangers Report retweeted 3m
    Kevin Weekes @KevinWeekes
    Congrats to @NYRangers Great Mike Richter,the NCAA will give the Mike Richter award to the top College Hockey Goalie.#VeryDeserving.

  9. Rob in Beantown on

    My prediction for the winner of the inaugural Mike Richter Award is Connor Hellebuyck at UMass-Lowell.

  10. bull dog line on

    to me number 4 is the biggest question. does Hank get exposed as a system goalie playing with oversized padding? or does he show all he is great no matter the system, and pad size?

  11. Something is about to give…
    I can feel it coming…….
    I think I know what it is……….

    Who’s to say where the wind will take you?
    Who’s to say what it is will break you?
    I don’t know, which way the wind will blow…..

  12. In the days, when we were swinging from the trees,
    I was a monkey stealing honey from a swarm of bees.

  13. well heads, its been fun for the 5 minutes ive been here. i will return when all of you propinquitous folks start propinki-cating

  14. Good evening all! Happy opening night! Though I am not happy at all….a post-work pounding head, 10:30 p.m. start and a 6 a.m. wake up … I blame the Dolans for this…have fun all. I’ll be lucky if I make most of first period but will try to quietly watch much as I can….first time ever missing a season opener. I want to cry.

  15. I’m driving to the Wilkes Barre area (!) for a weekend wedding. In laws don’t get MSG. Do I go out and try to find the game, hurting me for the week, or just eat this one?

  16. Doctor, go out and find the game. It might be the last time they are at 500 for the season.

  17. _He is, though, facing the prospect of being bought out again next summer. He’s playing for his career, really_

    Career-shmareer…B-Rich is gonna get paid no matter what! And if bought out, he will get paid even more because there will be at least one other team who will sign him…So Bradley’s got nuttin’ to worry aboot….

    Tho, for all of our sanity sake, I do hope he has a good season.

  18. ilb2001, Hi Hal still drifting?

    Re: your 1:37 on the previous thread. I have another prediction also made last season, The Islanders will whup the Rangers both head to head and in the standings.

    Hal, given all the “input” you have how do you view the Ranger roster and their prospects for the coming season?

    Laugh of the day, banning fighting! ;)

  19. Shoot the puck, “Staal will make a huge difference”?

    Did he grow 4″ and put on 20lbs. of muscle over the summer?

    He was average when he was supposed to be good! ;)

  20. so when you say “Richards will bounce back,” what exactly do you mean by that? for as dreadful as the guy looked most of last season, he ended up with a 60-point output over an 82-game schedule. I’d think you’d sign up for 60 points from Brad Richards circa 2013-14 in a heartbeat.

  21. One of the people I follow on Twitter retweeted Theo Fleury.

    He is detestable, a drug addict and a drunk.

  22. that’s enough tc, or Tiki, or whomever you are. I retweeted it, so I’ll take that as another personal comment directed at me.

  23. I’m surprised at how little mention Nash gets. His preseason has me very interested in what he’ll do this year. He doesn’t strike me as much of a leader, so his numbers are the major gauge of his worth. If he’s average, the Rangers are in big trouble.

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