The New York Rangers stunned everyone by making a run to the Stanley Cup finals last season. Are they a worthy bet on the NHL odds again or will they fall back to the pack in the East?
What Went Wrong Last Season?
The only thing that went wrong for the Rangers last season is that they didn’t lift the Cup. Even though they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games, three of their four losses came in overtime or double overtime, so it’s not as if they were truly blown out. This team definitely overachieved and were the story of the playoffs – especially after they rallied around Martin St. Louis after the death of his mother. St. Louis came over in a deadline trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning and ended up giving the Rangers offense the boost they were looking for. At the end, though, they simply ran up against a better team in the finals. Still, Alain Vignault was a success in his first season behind the bench for the Rangers.
The Rangers suffered some big losses in the offseason, losing the likes of Benoit Pouliot, Anton Stralman, Brad Richards and Brian Boyle. While those might not seem like huge names, they were key roleplayers for the Rangers during their Stanley Cup run.
Their biggest pickup was probably Dan Boyle, who has lost a step at 38-years-old but should give this team some offense from the blue line. They also added Tanner Glass to bring some grit but the Rangers had plenty of that. They need more skill players up front to give some offensive support to goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who was in the running for the Conn Smythe trophy even though his team lost in the finals.
The minuses outweigh the pluses for the Rangers in this category and Vignault is going to have his hands full keeping them afloat, much less make a return to the Stanley Cup finals. But it is a long season, so don’t be surprised if general manager Glen Sather tries to pull off a move or two ahead of the trade deadline, which is where he got the St. Louis Blues last season.
The Rangers had a lot of things go right last season and it doesn’t hurt that they have Lundqvist, who at 32 years old is still one of the top three or four goals in the entire world. There are many who would argue that he is the best. As long as he is between the pipes, the Rangers have a chance because he can steal them games. But in the grand scheme of things, this is a team that’s a number of bricks short of a load. They got a ton of great breaks in the playoffs, getting great matchups, then facing the Montreal Canadiens without Carey Price (injury) in the conference finals. This team won’t get as many good breaks this time around.
New York will have to find goals from somewhere after finishing 18th in the league during the regular season and they might not be as good defensively. Losing Brian Boyle and Stralman is going to hurt. They will need another near-miraculous run to come close to the finals this season.
When making your NHL picks do avoid all futures with this team as they won’t be as good. What is more realistic is another playoff appearance with an early playoff exit.
NHL Pick: Will Make The Playoffs, Eliminated In The First Round