Kukla's Korner

Goal Line Report

My Prediction

Throughout the summer and the early part of the pre-season, all hockey fans have read their season previews and predictions from various hockey writers, news sources and bloggers. Some of you have come to agree with the pundits while others are in disbelief, which is understandable because some of the predictions seem a bit off base.

With that in mind, I figured it was a good time to give you folks a synopsis of how I think the 2009-2010 New York Rangers will do.

Let’s first start out with what the team needs to do in order to be successful. One thing the Rangers will need to have for a successful season is a healthy Marian Gaborik. When healthy, Gaborik can be a dominant player. In just 17 games last season, Gaborik posted 23 points in 17 games and for his career, has 437 points in 502 games. He’s got tremendous speed, a quick release, not afraid to take the puck to the net, and can help out on the power play.

While that’s fine and dandy, it’s not going to matter if he ends up spending half the season injured. In 2006-07, he played 48 games. As mentioned above, he played in just 23 games last season and he hasn’t played remotely close to a full season since the 2007-08 season when he played in 77 games. Again, if he’s healthy, he will put a lot of points up on the board. If he’s not, Ranger fans will once again be clamoring for Sather’s head.

The team will also need to have a much better power play than they did last season, which shouldn’t be too hard considering they were in the basement for the whole season. Last year, the Blueshirts had trouble getting the puck to the net, they passed the puck more often than they shot it and they constantly looked for the perfect play, which was never there. Normally, most teams like to keep it simple on the power play and that usually results in quality scoring chances and goals. However, last year’s Rangers failed to generate much of both.

Going into this season, both Sather and head coach John Tortorella believe that the club’s power play will be much improved. Sather and Co. are hoping that by having a healthy Gaborik, newly acquired Ales Kotalik, hard worker Christopher Higgins and may be some help on the point from 25-year-old defenseman Matt Gilroy or even Michael Del Zotto, the power play will come out of the cellar and be a lot better than last season. It’ll certainly be a process and there will be lots of experimenting by Tortorella but one has to think “can it really get much worse?”

The team will also need to have a No. 1 bonafied center. Is it going to be Brandon Dubinsky, Vinny Prospal or may be even Drury. Whoever it is, it needs to be someone that can both feed the puck to Gaborik and accept his passes as well. It’s obvious that Gaborik is going to need to play with someone who can get him the puck, go into the corners and dig the puck out for him, find him in the slot or flying down the wing, etc. I think it will go with Dubinsky to start but don’t be surprised if Prospal gets a shot at it as well.

Obviously, the Rangers will also be relying heavily on goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. He’s average over 30 wins a season since joining the league in the 2005-06 season and has been the one constant for the Rangers in the past four seasons. I expect him to play the same way he has in his career and give the team a shot to win each game. With that said, however, Tortorella will need to give some games to backup netminder Steve Valiquette to keep Lundqvist fresh and to give Vally some playing time, especially in an Olympic year.

Overall, what I expect from them this season is what Ranger fans have become used to in the last years – play well enough to clinch a playoff spot in the last week of the season and see what happens in the Stanley Cup playoffs. May be I’ll be wrong but I think the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference in general is going to be extremely tight so don’t be surprised if the Blueshirts finish in the 6th, 7th or 8th spot in the conference this season. 

Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
  Tags: new+york+rangers, seasn+preview

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About Goal Line Report

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 patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.

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