by Patrick Hoffman on 01/16/13 at 08:30 AM ET
This is exactly how New York Rangers' fans should approach the upcoming 48-game shortened NHL season.
Last season, the Blueshirts shocked many and were one of the best teams in the entire league last season. They did it with great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, great defense, and a committment by the whole team to play well on both sides of the puck.
Considering that the team's coach, John Tortorella, is still in place, the team will more than likely use the same philosphy this season. With that said, there is reason for the team and its fans to believe that this season could end up being a very special season on Broadway.
For starters, the team now has a balanced offense. With newcomer Rick Nash now in the fold, the Blueshirts now have two snipers in their arsenal with the likes of Nash and Marian Gaborik to go along with the likes of Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and others.
Secondly, Rangers' All-Star netminder Henrik Lundqvist is coming off his first Vezina Trophy-winning season and his confidence should be higher than ever. With 48 games on tap, expect Lundqvist to get the nod for the majority of them as he likes to play a lot of games and the more games he plays, the better chance the Rangers have at winning a lot of hockey games.
Lastly, it is the same defensive corps. This is a young Rangers' defense that plays with poise, knows how to use the body, blocks a lot of shots and makes a lot of smart plays.
All the pieces are in place for another successful season for the Rangers this year. With that said, fans still need to approach it with cautious optimism.
With a 48-game season, the pressure will be on the team to pick-up points on a nightly basis. The Rangers cannot afford to go on a long losing streak because if that happens, a playoff spot could/ be in jeopardy.
Secondly, injuries do happen, especially with such a tightened schedule. The team cannot afford to lose guys like Gaborik, Richards, Lundqvist, Marc Staal, etc., for extended periods of time.
Lastly, everything is now up for grabs. There could be a lot of surprises this year given the shortened schedule, which means that a playoff spot is by no means guaranteed this season.
With all of that in mind, Blueshirt fans have every right to be excited about this season given the pieces the team has and what they are capable of. With that said, it is better to be cautious and look at the whole picture before giving the Rangers the Stanley Cup.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.