by Patrick Hoffman on 01/11/13 at 12:00 PM ET
The New York Rangers surprised many people throughout the league last season when they not only won the Atlantic Division, but when they finished atop the Eastern Conference and were second in the entire NHL.
This season, should the Rangers do something similar, it should not come as a surprise. In fact, this season, there is a good chance that the Blueshirts can win their second Stanley Cup since 1994.
For starters, they have the best netminder in the league. With Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes, anything is possible.
Last season, Lundqvist became the first Ranger since John Vanbiesbrouck to win the Vezina Trophy as the league's best netminder. He did so by putting up great numbers and by being the team's best player on the ice night in and night out.
With a shortened season and many games in many nights, Lundqvist will be called upon a lot this season. For Lundqvist, that is just the way he likes it.
Secondly, the team now has two snipers. For the past few seasons, the Rangers' big goal scorer had usually been Marian Gaborik and last season, he was that guy as he scored 41 goals.
This season, the Blueshirts have a new marksman in Rick Nash. Nash has scored over 30-goals in his last five seasons and is the kind of player that can put the puck in the net in any situation whether it is on even strength, is on the power play, is with a hard slap shot or a pin-point wrist shot.
The Blueshirts also have some other talent on offense with the likes of Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, and Carl Hagelin. Richards is expected to once again be the team's top center and play alongside Gaborik and Nash while players like Callahan, Stepan, Hagelin and even rookie Chris Kreider can provide what will be some much needed secondary scoring.
The Rangers had one of the league's best defenses last season and that might end up being the case this season as well. Led by Dan Girardi, the team has a defensive corps that can block a lot of shots, break-up a lot of plays and create turnovers that lead to goals on a nightly basis.
The season is just eight days away and for a team that has the chance to make a siginificant run at hockey's Holy Grail, it cannot come soon enough.
Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
Tags: atlantic+division, brad+richards, carl+hagelin, chris+kreider, dan+girardi, derek+stepan, eastern+conference, henrik+lundqvist, john+vanbiesbrouck, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan
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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.