As the NHL season takes a break and gives way to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, the New York Rangers‘ players who have been selected to represent their respective countries in the games are on their way to Sochi.
Seven Rangers have been selected to their countries’ Olympic rosters for Sochi in the coming weeks. Rangers’ Captain Ryan Callahan will be joined by teammates Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh to represent the United States. Netminder Henrik Lundqvist and winger Carl Hagelin will represent Sweden. Mats Zuccarello will represent Norway, and Rangers star Rick Nash will represent Team Canada in Sochi.
The Rangers are tied with the St. Louis Blues for most players in the Olympics from a single NHL team, and many of them will have big roles on the teams they are a part of.
Lundqvist is arguably the most important Ranger player in the Olympics, as Team Sweden will be heavily reliant on him for success in Sochi. He led the Swedes to gold in Italy in 2006, but had a disappointing campaign in Vancouver in 2010, missing the medal round completely. If Sweden is to have any chance of a medal this year, Lundqvist will have to continue the hot streak that he has had in the NHL these past few weeks. Without Lundqvist, the Swedes would have to rely on goaltenders with not much NHL experience, so Lundqvist must step up to the plate and lead his country to a medal.
Hagelin will also be important to Team Sweden, playing next to some NHL stars in hopes of winning a medal in Sochi.
Team USA will need all the help they can get if they are to beat their rivals to the north this year in Sochi. After a heartbreaking loss to Team Canada on their home turf in Vancouver in 2010, the Americans are looking for revenge in Sochi this year. The Rangers who are playing for Team USA will be a crucial part of the campaign for gold in Sochi. McDonagh will be put to the test in Sochi as one of the top defenseman, matching up against some of the best players in the world. Only time will tell if the young defenseman is up for the challenge and can lead the Americans to Olympic gold.
Callahan will bring some unofficial leadership to Team USA, as one of the top wingers on the team, and as an NHL captain, Callahan will play an important role in the quest for gold. If Callahan can continue his good play of late in Russia, maybe the Americans will be able to beat their rivals to the north this Olympics.
Stepan will be one of the reserve players who will travel to Sochi for Team USA. While he might not get to play this Olympics, he will need to show what he has if he gets the call. Team USA will need all the help they can get, and as the Rangers top center, if Stepan gets his shot this Olympics, then he will need to produce points in order to power the Americans to the gold medal game again.
Team USA’s biggest rival will contain the Rangers’ biggest star, Nash. While Team Canada has plenty of star power, they will need Nash to use his size and talent to not only to score goals, but to set up his teammates who do not have the size to battle for the puck. Team Canada will look to defend their gold medal this year, as they go in with one of the most star-studded rosters in the games.
The Norwegians will look to Zuccarello as one of their primary goal scorers this year in Sochi. Norway will need Zuccarello to continue his success from the NHL and be very successful if they have any chance of even making the medal round. With teams like the United States, Canada and Sweden, Norway will need to play exceptionally well to even have a chance to medal.
All of the Rangers going to the Olympics will have a crucial position on their teams in terms of winning a medal this month in Sochi. Whatever happens in Sochi, let’s just all hope that all the Rangers’ Olympians will be ready to continue their NHL campaign toward a Stanley Cup Championship when they return at the end of the month.