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08-23-2010, 10:39 AM
  #16
HockeyBasedNYC
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While I still think we'll struggle to score goals and battle inconsistency problems - I do think we are an improved team and I'm a little more excited going into this season then how it ended last year. In fact I wasn't excited at all down the stretch - I was quite disenchanted until the last week when I came around only to have my heart ripped out of my chest again in that Philly shootout.

But thats the past. I'm gonna try my best to keep hope alive (as I do each year) going into this year because I do think they are a better club and have a little more depth. Mainly because guys like Anisimov, Del Zotto and Gilroy are a year older and have gone through an NHL season. Lets not forget that guys like Dubinksy and Callahan should be hitting their potential years and Staal is still progressing in a tougher position. I still think we'll be watching the learning curve of guys like Gilroy and DelZotto (not to mention MZA, hes a huge question mark) but we can hang our hat on the fact that DZ brings some very good offense and is only 20.

Im super excited about Anisimov this year. I think we'll see some good things from him and even if he starts out slow, I hope they stick with him on one of the top lines to give him the time and confidence he needs to get on that first NHL roll I believe is only a matter of time away. You can live with him there because he's uber-responsible positionally and hes skilled enough to play with players of that calibre.

As far as the other guys up front -
Gaborik will have to stay healthy, that goes without saying. Frolov is going to be motivated and that top line, whomever the center is should be one of the keys to the season. I'm really tempering my expectations with Frolov. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised then disappointed. I'm not going to gush over him like Zherdev until i see it consistently.

I'm expecting Prospal to have a down year for a couple reasons, one his stats trend downward after a hot year and secondly i dont think he see as much time with Gaborik. But its good to have him waiting in the weeds if Frolov cools off because he can get hot for a good stretch.

Drury, christ. He just needs to play solid D and win faceoffs. Im not expecting anything from him to be honest because i think hes shot offensively. It would be miraculous if he regained form and it would prove to be a huge plus for the team but quite frankly i just dont see that happening.

It will be interesting to see how Avery's role plays out this year. He could be anywhere from the 4th line to the 2nd to benched. Its really up to him decide where hell be. Theres no doubt the Rangers could use the Avery of 2007. With the division the Rangers are in this year they are really going to need that type of play, especially with Boogaard or Prust here to clean up any of the mess leftover.

I truly believe that Biron is one of the biggest keys to the Rangers success this season. Hank is Hank. But we all know he gets worn down and we all know he has that bad stretch of games somewhere in November-January. I'm hoping Torts can deploy Biron for a run of successive games were hes successful while spelling Lundqvist. I think it will do wonders for this team, but its up to Biron and Allaire to regain the form necessary to achieve that.

On defense i expect Redden to be gone. I just dont see how he fits into the cap puzzle. Guys like Rozy and Girardi id like to see a little more toughness from but theyve been dependable the last few years. Its not an easy division to be in as a defenseman. I'd like to see Staal build on the end of last year and really take a hold of the next level of play hes been taunting us with. Interested in seeing what MCDonagh will bring but hes another college Dman learning on the job and i expect the result to be similar to that of Gilroy last season where he teeters out half way through the year.

Special Teams -
The powerplay will probably be the same unless the defenseman step up. For me the PP's problems have been all the defense and not getting correct shots through. Its worth noting that the Rangers PP wasn't all that bad last year finishing a respectable 13th in the league. But what they need to do is make teams pay for untimely penalties this year. I expect the PK to be up towards the top of the league again as well.


---------------
As always, a ton of question marks. If all clicks, a solid team IMO somewhere in the middle of the eastern playoff pack. But theres no shot you can expect that, especially with the way the East and specifically the Atlantic has improved. As usual, this team will go as far as Gaborik and Lundqvist will take them. Its safe to say theyll be a bubble team, most likely looking up most of the year. Here are my 5 keys to the season.

1. Biron - Lundqvist not playing 70 games for the first time since his rookie season - A big plus. Biron's play could push them over the 8th seed or drive them below. Rest for Hank could prove vital during the playoffs if they get there.

2. Rookie + Sophomore Output - Anisimov, Gilroy and Del Zotto and if they take the next step. MZA and McDonagh - How will these guys adapt to the NHL game? Especially MZA who's range could be a complete bust or a legit top 6 threat.

3. Coaching - Not too many people are mentioning this. Torts has had a year and change with this club now. Its his. He knows the players and we'll see how effective his tutelage is with the youngsters and how he can get the most out of some of the veterans. He has the capability to make a team better, or have his players completely tune him out. I think well have a better idea of where his tenure with the Rangers is going after this season.

4. Frolov - I hate to make him a key but plain and simple the Rangers need to score goals. He was brought here to score in a walk year and they need just that. Scoring 19 or 38 could very well mean playoffs or not for a team as anemic on offense as the Rangers.

5. Health - I say it every year. For whatever reason the Rangers have been extremely lucky, prepared, fortunate - whatever - when it comes to manpower games lost due to injury. Key guys like Gaborik and Lunqvist obviously have to stay on the ice for this club to go anywhere, and a team with just ok depth cannot sustain multiple injuries and remain competitive.

Honorable Mention Keys

- Sean Avery. If he returns to form we all know what he gives to this team.
- Play at Home and after regulation. The Rangers stunk in both of these regards. There ROAD record carried them and that was very odd. This key could actually be one of the top 5, but it goes without saying they have to be better at home.


Last edited by HockeyBasedNYC: 08-23-2010 at 10:46 AM.
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