Sep 30, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the third period against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden. New York Rangers won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
3. The Rangers are good
No need to sugarcoat it. The Blue Shirts were serious Cup contenders last season and ultimately came up short. Their Cup window is wide-open, but probably not for a whole lot longer, and they are fully aware of this.
Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello (assuming he is fully recovered from his fractured skull) and Derick Brassard make up New York’s dangerous top line. Derek Stepan has steadily improved in each and every one of his five previous NHL seasons. Same goes for Chris Kreider, and the future looks very bright for former Hawks draft pick Kevin Hayes.
The Rangers’ blueline is not as strong as their forward corps, but it has potential. Regardless, it is more than passable. Ryan McDonagh is a great defensive defenseman who saw his offensive contributions diminish under head coach Alain Vigneault. Coincidence? Maybe. Could the offense come back? Sure, but it isn’t required. McDonagh is solid enough as is. It would sure help, though.
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Dan Girardi is a minutes-eater who just gets his job done, though he isn’t really anything special. This isn’t a knock on Girardi at all. He takes lots of pressure off of the rest of the Rangers D-core.
One to look out for is Keith Yandle. A mid-season acquisition from the Arizona Coyotes played fine but wasn’t quite what he was expected to be. Now that he’s had time to adjust to playing in the Big Apple and he’s in his contract year, look for Yandle to have a big season, starting as soon as tonight.
Oh yeah, that goaltender. Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best in the game as well as in his entire generation of goaltenders. The man wants a Cup, and he totally deserves one. He’s getting up there in age (33-years-old), so his window may be closing soon. He might be a world-eater this season.
The ’Hawks have also struggled recently against the Rangers. They are 1-2-1 against them in the past two seasons.
A team that has come close to winning it all that is also close to seeing it’s championship window closing being forced to watch another team’s banner-raising ceremony is a curious case. Look for the Rangers to come out highly-motivated and fast tonight.
Next: Thought No. 2