The pressure of the big apple and being an original six franchise puts immense scrutiny on the Rangers who brought in a new bench boss-Alain Vignault, to move them to the next step-the Stanley Cup.
The offense will have the same look and while (F) Derek Stepan remains unsigned there’s no question that GM Glen Sather intends to keep him in the organization. Stepan led the team in points last season with 44 in 48gp. He will be on the ice come puck drop. The marquis name for the Rangers, Rick Nash, was on pace to score 40 goals last season and at 29 years of age is in his prime. The big bodied power forward will get support from a roster that boasts size and hard checking play. With a new bench boss, it is reasonable to wonder whether or not (F) Brad Richards will remain with the club since John Tortorella was a key piece in his decision to sign on with the blue shirts. Regardless, he still provides good production, while entering the back-end of his career. At 33, he finished third in team scoring last season, is a veteran (cup winning) presence and will help the younger players find their stride in the league. Prospect Chris Kreider burst into the league with a solid playoff performance in 2011. In his first regular season with the team he provided depth to the roster and listed at 6’3” 225lbs has a big body presence who can skate and can learn a lot from aforementioned and more mature Rick Nash. This group of forwards usually produces second tier scoring: since 2010 they’ve finished between 11-16th each year but Sather hopes Vignault will turn things around.
Defense is where the Rangers shine! They are able to break their opposition’s stride, ranking top 5 in Goals Against in the last 3 seasons, in large part also due to perennial Vezina candidate (G) Henrik Lundvist. Their top 4,- Ryan McDonaugh, Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal have been a wall for the past few seasons and all are signed on. Staal suffered an eye injury last season but reports indicate he will be healthy. Del-Zotto and McDonaugh are the best options to contribute offense to the forwards. The signing of Justin Faulk allows the Rangers to havea more NHL experienced D-men if injuries occur. His signing is expected to provide more depth with more potential upside than a minute killing regular.
One upside for Alain Vignault will be the absence of controversy with the media on who will be the starter. Henrik Lundqvist is the starter and will see most of the workload. As far as this season goes, the Rangers can be certain that he will provide 35 wins for the club, as he’s done every year since 2007, barring a lockout or major injury, of course. His save percentage circulates around the .925 mark and his GAA in the low 2.00 area. Even if their offense doesn’t score a ton of goals night in-and-out, having the King as a backstop will keep them in the game.