Big things were expected from the 2012-13 New York Rangers who went into the lockout-shortened season as the pick to win the Stanley Cup. Yet, the season turned out to be more of a major disappointment for the Rangers and their fans as the team made the playoffs with a strong finish of the regular season with 56 points and be the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and the playoff run actually got started off on the right foot as they defeated the Washington Capitals in seven games in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, it would come to an end in the next round losing to the Boston Bruins in five games.
As a result of what was a disappointing season and clear player dissatisfaction, John Tortorella was fired as the Rangers head coach and in came Alain Vigneault who clearly has brought along a new feeling around the team and with it, renewed optimism that this season could produce the desired result for Rangers fans. On the player front, the Rangers lost late season acquisition Ryan Clowe in free agency, but in have come in Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot who are players who promise to add a veteran presence and some scoring.
Looking at the Rangers 2013-14 schedule, they begin the season living out of their suitcases as their first nine games are on the road and 10 of the 12 games they play in the month of October away from home. The reason the Rangers are opening the season with many road games is due to the fact that the final stage of renovations at Madison Square Garden (MSG) are being finalized and completed. While they open with a nine-game road trip, the Rangers balance this out with a nine-game homestand in December between Dec. 7-23.
The Rangers close the season with three of their final six games at home, with their last game of the season to be played on April 12 in a road game against the Montreal Canadiens. With the schedule in mind and looking at the roster of the team, this is a squad that can easily win between 47-55 games in the regular season. the Rangers’ issue(s) in the past with Tortorella as coach was of a team who while being very solid defensively, might have been too defensive minded, and as a result, the team’s offensive abilities were hurt.
Under Vigneault, the Rangers should be liberated offensively and in turn, see them have a better regular season record. My prediction is that the Rangers finish the regular season at best with a 52-23-7 record to finish with 111 points, and see them finish at or near the top of the newly created Metropolitan Division, and finish at or near the top in the overall Eastern Conference standings.