Metropolitan Division Preview: New York Rangers

 

Ah, the Philadelphia Flyers’ old rivals from New York. I know the New York Rangers best from the Messier/Richter years. You might know them from their losing to the Flyers on the last day of the 2009-2010 season in a shootout and missing out on the playoffs.

The Rangers are in an odd spot. Two years ago, they were in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Now, they’re breaking in a new coach and trying to figure out if the Rick Nash trade was worth it.

Here’s your look at the 2013-2014 New York Rangers:

 

City facts

New York’s overrated. There, I said it. Yeah, it’s cool and all, but it’s not all THAT cool. Pfft, whatever, leave me alone, JERKS.

Madison Square Garden improved its lighting last year, so it no longer looks like the Rangers are playing in an after-hours parking lot.

 

Worst jersey

The Rangers are another team I will reluctantly admit have a good look, despite my distaste for them. If I had to choose one, I’d say I’m not a big fan of their mid-70s jerseys. The Statue of Liberty jerseys are divisive, but I think we can all agree that it looks much better in blue than white.

 

Key Players

Brad Richards – Overpaid no-talent bum who should have been bought out when they had the chance! Brad Richards is a decent two-way forward who was absolutely overpaid by the Rangers (and almost by the Flyers) before the 2011-2012 season. He was so bad in last year’s playoffs (1 point in 10 games!) that most people speculated that the Rangers would buy him and his remaining seven years out, but for some reason they didn’t. Richards has a chance to put it all behind him, but can he?

Rick Nash – Overrated hack. I’m so happy the Flyers didn’t trade for him. Boooooooo!

Nash had a good first season in the dim, bright lights of MSG. He also had an underwhelming playoff effort with only 5 points in 12 games. The Rangers don’t have an issue making it to the dance at this point, it’s having someone that knows the waltz that’s the problem. And Rick Nash has two left feet.

That was the worst analogy I have ever written.

Henrik Lunqvist – Much has been written of his handsomeness, but if he’s so handsome then why doesn’t he have a Stanley Cup, hmmmmm???

King Henrik finds himself in a curious position with the Rangers. It’s the last year of his current deal with the team. He’s consistently awesome, having posted save percentages over .920 in the past 4 seasons. He’s also 30 and looking for a long-term deal. The Rangers might be reluctant to sign a goalie on the wrong side of 30 to an 8-year contract, but you know Lundqvist will give them plenty of reasons to go ahead with it.

Also, the Flyers totally will if you won’t, Rangers. They’ve signed worse goalies to megadeals, they’ll sure as hell sign Henrik Lundqvist to one.

Ryan Callahan - The Rangers’ captain is one of those guys that you’d just love to have on your team. He’ll go into the corners, block shots, even throw down if necessary. Like Lundqvist, he is also entering a contract season. It will be interesting to see if he can raise his offensive numbers to get a bigger payday.

 

Coach

Alain Vigneault - The former Vancouver Canucks coach is starting his first season with the Rangers. Vigneault is a professional, except when it comes to naming starting goalies. Luckily for him, he doesn’t have to worry about that with Marty Biron as the consummate NHL backup (and also nowhere nearly as talented as Henrik Lundqvist). He already has New York Rangers’ beat writers overjoyed by not having to deal with John Tortorella anymore.

 

Key offseason move

See everything about Vigneault above. The Rags didn’t do much as far as personnel goes, but the shift behind the bench is a huge culture change. No more Torts screaming, no more Torts staring silently until he’s left alone, the New York media is free to get complete, insightful answers! As far as the on-ice product goes, this might mean less blocked shots for the Rangers.

Not buying out Brad Richards might count as a key offseason move as well, but they’ll probably just end up doing it next summer anyway.

 

Division Prediction: Second

I’m not fully confident in this prediction. I don’t like to underestimate Henrik Lundqvist, and if Rick Nash dominates offensively, the Rangers could be in good shape. Will they run King Henrik ragged and not score enough for him in the postseason again? Yeah, probably. But, he’s always money in the regular season. Lundqvist is the Rangers’ banana stand.