With the hockey season on its way, we at PKLC have decided to do previews from as many teams as we can (if we still care about it after 14 days) today we switch divisions, moving to the Atlantic. As we move, we also welcome a new writer, Stephen Crociata
What Happened Last Year
2009-10 Record: 38-33-11 - 87 pts
4th in Atlantic
9th in Eastern Conference
Just like every other NY team the Rangers go into every season expecting to make the playoffs and early on in the 2009-2010 season it looked like the Rangers would have no problem getting to the post season. Starting 7-1 through 8 games everything was clicking for the Rangers but they were unable to keep it up. For much of the season the Rangers battled themselves more than their opponents as they were unable to put together consistent impressive performances. For instance on Jan 17th and 19th they beat Montreal 6-2 and Tampa Bay 8-2, but in the next two games they were outscored 8-0. The Rangers tried to battle back at the end of the season winning three of their last four but finished one point behind Montreal for the 8th and final spot in the playoffs.
The most obvious problem of the 2009-2010 Rangers was the lack of a secondary scorer. Marian Gaborik was able to stay healthy and out up over a pt per game but no one else topped 60 points.Rookie D-Man Michael Del Zotto had a promising season with 37 points but he lacked defensively and posted a +/- of -20 for the season. No Rangers D-man was able to top 10 goals and only Gaborik had more than 20. The most hated man in hockey, Sean Avery, was much more a problem for the Rangers in 09-10 than a solution . He constantly got himself penalized in bad situations and cost the team on multiple occasions.
Not only did the Rangers fail once again to win the Atlantic Division (last time was '94 when they won the cup) but they failed to crack the 90 pt mark and missed the playoffs for the first time since 03-04.
Welcome to Broadway (Acquisitions)
Mats Zuccarello Aasen
Close the Curtain on (Departures)
The Season Ahead
The Rangers office may not be filled with the brightest bulbs, paging Mr. Sather, but they know the fans who come to the Garden every night expected changes after a season of no playoffs and they may not have brought in any of the big names but they did try to compliment what they already had. The additions of Frolov and Zuccarelo Aasen should put a little less pressure on Gaborik. Gaborik MUST be healthy all season as he was in 09-10, and this should be interesting since he hasnt started 70+ games since his first 3 years in the NHL. The acquisition of Steve Eminger should add a non dead weight veteran D-man to a group who can't afford to add any more dead weight. This season may wind up being more of a bridge to a big season next year but either way Ranger fans will not be content with missing the playoffs two years in a row so this team must find a way.
Looking to Lead
Henrik Lundqvist- Hank has been eeriely consistent over his 1st 5 NHL seasons and he is one of the top goalies in the NHL. The Rangers will look to Lundqvist for another one of his great seasons and lead them back into the playoffs. The smallest hiccup or, godforbid for Ranger fans, an injury to Hank would end the Rangers season.
Marian Gaborik- The teams biggest, and possibly only, scorer will need to learn how to be a leader this season if the Rangers have a chance to make a deep run into the playoffs. During his time with the Adjectives (Wild) Gabby was often criticized for not taking igniative as a leader.
Chris Drury- Drury lost a lot of fans last season putting up the worst numbers of his career. He still (for the time being) wears the C for the Rangers and should want to prove that he deserves it. (Ed. Note: As with all Chris Drury mentions, we have to mention he played Little League and pitched his Trumbull team to a Little League World Series win, back to Stephen)
Vinny Prospal- Prospal is a veteran who the young Rangers responded well to last season if he can stay healthy I'm sure he will carry the same into next season.
Ryan Callahan- This gritty winger is a fan favorite and although doesn't put up huge numbers he has what it takes to be a major factor as a leader on NY.
Mats Zuccarello Aasen- Personally my favorite player from the 2010 Olympic games, Zuccarello Aaasen (Thank God his whole name will appear on his jersey) takes his impressive scoring ability from Modo to the Rangers. It will be interesting to see how his game forms in the NHL.
Alexander Frolov- After his worst statistical output this past year Frolov looks to rebound in a new home and prove the doubters wrong.
Marc Staal and Dan Girardi- Of course assuming Staal gets signed these two young D-Men carry a defense which has some dead weight on it (Rozsival and Redden). These two playing the game the way they have over the last 3 years is essential for the Rangers success.
The PKLC Prediction
The Rangers may be the 4th best team in their division but that doesn't necessarily mean they are going to miss the playoffs again.
Division Rank - 4th 93 pts
Conference Rank - 8th
Playoffs - Eliminated in 1st Round
-Stephen Crociata (@SCrociata)