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09-10-2007, 12:35 AM
  #10
Inferno
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZYanksRule View Post
Rangers, New York, dreaming large in 07-08
by ZYanksRule
September 10, 2007

HAMDEN, Conn. -- It is a roster that has the city of New York thinking Stanley Cup.

This year’s iteration of the New York Rangers seemingly has it all. A potent offense, a Vezina goaltender, and a good-enough core of defensemen.

The Rangers are going for broke this year, there’s no doubt about that. This off season saw the Blueshirts sign Chris Drury from Buffalo and Scott Gomez from across the river in New Jersey. Meanwhile, they held onto veteran leader Brendan Shanahan, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and punishing winger Sean Avery, all while barely staying under the salary cap.

The offense is looking sharp as the hockey world counts down the remaining weeks until the offseason ends on October 4, but the major concern on this Rangers team is the defense. Last year, the Rangers defense started out slow, but as the year went on, the Rangers got hot, and so did the defense. During the second half of the 2006-07 year, the defense on Broadway was among the tops in the NHL for goals against and shots against.

They will need a similar effort if they want to compete for the top spot in the Eastern Conference this season. They have made no moves to shore up the defense, but one player may make a large difference:

Marc Staal.

He has never played a game in the AHL. That won’t stop the Rangers from considering him for a spot on the Rangers core of defensemen during this upcoming season. Staal, highly regarded, could be a serious dark horse in the balance of power in the Atlantic Division.

The other large question mark revolves around the 3rd line center for this team. Matt Cullen, who occupied the position last year with off-and-on success, was dealt back to Carolina for youngsters Matt Barnes and Andrew Hutchinson. The move, made largely for salary cap reasons, leaves a gaping hole at the position for this year. Rookies Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov will compete for the spot during training camp, set to open later this week.

Meanwhile, the area the Rangers have the least amount of concern with is the goaltending situation. Henrik Lundqvist, entering his third year in the NHL, will look to improve on a sophomore campaign that saw him start slow but finish as one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. If he can maintain the pace he was on at the end of the season, the Rangers defense will be made to look a lot better.

Expectations are high for this Rangers team. New York expects this team to be playing deep into May. Anything less will be a disappointment.

Exactly how the Rangers want it in the City that Never Sleeps.

EXPECTED FINISH:
2nd, Eastern Conference

LINE EXPECTATIONS:
Jagr – Gomez - Straka
Shanahan – Drury – Avery
Callahan – Dubinsky – Prucha
Dawes – Betts – Hollweg

Rozsival – Malik
Staal - Tyutin
Girardi – Pock

Lundqvist
Valiquette

SCRATCHES:
Orr – Hutchinson – Hossa
excellently written. i am curious though where Mara went (dealt maybe?) still, very well done

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