5 Things New York Rangers Must Do To Be Successful This Season
5 Things the New York Rangers Must Do To Be Successful During the 2013-2014 Season
The New York Rangers entered last season as one of the favorites to bring home the Stanley Cup, but a tumultuous, inconsistent season left fans disappointed. Now, after getting bounced out of the second round of the playoffs by the Boston Bruins and dismissing former coach John Tortorella, the Rangers seek to return to the level of play that nearly led them to the Cup in the 2011-12 season.
Fortunately, this year’s Rangers won’t have to deal with a lockout-shortened season, which created a lot of problems for them out of the gates last year. Having a full training camp and preseason should also be beneficial for a team that is now welcoming Alain Vigneault, their new head coach. The Rangers have plenty of talent on their roster and the arrival of a new coach could give them the boost they need to return to championship contention.
The Rangers, as always, will rely heavily on Henrik Lundqvist, their anchor and best player. King Henrik is easily one of the world’s best goaltenders and he gives the team a strong foundation to stand upon. They’ll also be bringing back Rick Nash, the team’s most dynamic goal scorer, who will undoubtedly benefit from a full offseason with his Rangers teammates. Fans should be able to expect top-notch performances from both of them (and captain Ryan Callahan) all season long. But they will need to improve in other areas if they want to go on a deep playoff run. Let’s take a look at five things the Blueshirts can do to return to the top of the pack.
5. Adjust to a New Coach
Alain Vigneault will be walking into a completely situation than he had with the Vancouver Canucks. Under Vigneault, the Canucks were typically among the league leaders in goals scored, whereas Tortorella’s Rangers were built on physical defense and shot blocking. The Rangers players will have to adapt to a new style of play and a new style of coaching. Surely, a few Rangers players are excited about the notion of being screamed at less frequently.
4. Survive the Opening Road Trip
Due to a renovation project at Madison Square Garden, the Blueshirts will open the 2013-14 season with their first nine (and 10 of their first 11) games on the road. Making it through that opening road stretch, with games against seven of last year’s playoff teams, will have a massive impact on the team’s chemistry or morale. Piling up early losses could potentially lead to doubts about their new style of play and could hurt the team going forward. Emerging from that road trip and heading back home with a decent record is a must.
3. Take Pressure off Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik may be the king, but he can’t do it all by himself. If the Rangers wear him out in the regular season, it could be a problem come playoff time. The Rangers were 12th in goals scored last year, but they had a very poor offensive performance in the playoffs. They’ll also need to address issues with their power play. Last year, the Rangers scored on just 15.7 percent of their chances with a man advantage, a figure much lower than the league average of 18.22 percent.
2. Develop a No. 2 Scorer
Rick Nash was great last year, but the team’s offense was brutal in games he missed with injuries. Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan are their next best scorers and each of them will need to step up for the Rangers this year. They’ll also need a bounce-back season from Brian Boyle and for Chris Kreider to deliver on the talent he showed in the playoffs two years ago. Expect Carl Hagelin to take another step forward. His blazing speed is a major asset and he should have a longer leash with Vigneault than he did with Torts.
1. Get More Production From Their 3rd and 4th Lines
The 2011-12 Rangers didn’t have an explosive top line but they were deep and that depth allowed them to play high-pressure defense all game. The Rick Nash trade stripped them of much of that depth, causing their roster to become a little top-heavy. Some of that depth has returned since the Marian Gaborik trade and developing those third and fourth-liners will be key if the Rangers want to secure a high seed in the postseason. With a full offseason to prepare and a deep, talented roster, the Rangers should once again set their sights on bringing the Cup to New York for the first time since 1994.