New York Rangers


by Joe Fortunato

1. Goaltending.

So long as Henrik Lundqvist is tending the pipes this will be an advantage for the New York Rangers. When it comes to goaltending, consistency is the name of the game; something Lundqvist and Benoit Allaire have done a great job providing. In his career Lundqvist has averaged a 2.26 GAA and a 92.1 SV%.

That edge has helped keep a defense that was subpar at times last year afloat, and help mitigate some of the mistakes made in front of them. The Stanley Cup window for the Rangers will close when Lundqvist allows it to close.

2. Offense.

The Rangers were tied for third in the NHL last year in goals for. Led by Rick Nash, the top-heavy skill on Broadway is undeniable -- although it is worth noting that Mats Zuccarello’s injury, along with some other ailments, did a good job at derailing some of the Rangers’ offense in the postseason. Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard and Zuccarello are easily some of the better passers in the game while Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes are poised to continue to blossom. Having a healthy Keith Yandle and Ryan McDonagh will help, too. As will a healthy Dan Boyle.

3. Speed and transition.

This isn’t really two things since they go hand in hand. Kreider is one of the fastest players in the league. Fast is also fast (no pun intended). Emerson Etem and Viktor Stalberg have some wheels to replace Carl Hagelin’s now that he’s playing in Anaheim, while Hayes, Brassard, Zuccarello and Nash aren’t exactly slow themselves.

Last year the Rangers’ bread and butter was their ability to transition from defense to offense using their speed through the neutral zone. That shouldn’t change much this year, and will a healthy Yandle to move the puck from the back end, it should only get better.


by Joe Fortunato

1. Power-play consistency

The Rangers have all the pieces to have a dominant power play in the NHL. They have an elite goalscorer in Nash, three brilliant set-up players in Derek Stepan, Zuccarello and Brassard and a true power-play quarterback in Yandle. Throw in names like Kreider, Hayes and even J.T. Miller and you should have a quality recipe for success.

Just like at even strength, injuries derailed the Rangers power play efforts in the postseason last year, and this group finding some consistency with the man-advantage will go a long way to getting back to the Stanley Cup Final.

2. Depth scoring.

Yes, offense is listed above as a strength. No, this is not a typo. If the playoffs proved anything, it’s the Rangers are too reliant on certain pieces of their offense. Once Zuccarello went down with an injury the Rangers’ offense ground to a halt. Nash, Brassard, Kreider and Stepan did most of the heavy lifting for the offense the Rangers did produce, but it wasn’t enough. The Rangers need to be less reliant on their top guns and the only way they’re going to be able to do that is if the kids continue to grow and the Rangers optimize their lineup to their own advantage.

3. Themselves.

The New York Rangers -- and most of this falls on coach Alain Vigneault -- shot themselves in the foot more than a few times last year with questionable lineup decisions. Tanner Glass played in almost every game he could -- him getting the mumps sidelined him longer than his poor play --  and Vigneault had some trouble adjusting his lineup in the Eastern Conference Final; allowing the Lightning’s Triplets line to run circles around a slower defensive pairing and a poorly constructed bottom six.

Vigneault has all the pieces he needs to improve this team and very few of them came from external sources. The kids from last year should be able to handle a bigger workload this year if they’re properly nurtured and allowed to do so.


1. How can the Rangers solve their power-play issues?
2. Is the Rangers defense good enough to contend for a Stanley Cup?
3. Which kid is expected to take the biggest leap this year?

Get the answers at Blueshirt Banter.


by Joe Fortunato

A Stanley Cup Parade this summer. There’s really no other option at this point. The Rangers went for it last year by moving one of their top prospects for Yandle and wound up a game short of reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the second consecutive year. That ambition and motivation is still there this year, but it takes a lot more than desire to win the Stanley Cup.

If the kids blossom, the Rangers get out of their own way and the youth from last year continue to grow the Rangers should have a dangerous team top to bottom that can contend with anyone.


by Joe Fortunato

A Lundqvist injury (although we said that last year, too) or other injuries that pile up and keep the Rangers from making the playoffs/not going very deep in the playoffs. If the kids from last year hit a sophomore slump and the defense gets overworked and run down due to reliance on some of the older, slower cogs, the Rangers might find themselves in some real trouble.