What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here, on BLUECOLLARBLUESHIRTS.com. I would like to welcome everyone, FINALLY, to the 2015-2016 season. As mentioned in my other blogs, which you can find in the archives section, on the right hand side of the site, due to my work schedule, these blogs may not be as in-depth or as frequent as last year. I’m also assuming you’re getting your Rangers news from the official NY Ranger websites, BLUESHIRTSUNITED.com and NYRANGERS.com.
The puck drops tonight and the Rangers will watch the Chicago Blackhawks raise their Stanley Cup Banner, right in their face. If it wasn’t for playing piss poor at home, Lundqvist giving up 6 goals a game back-to-back, the offense being shut out, Zuccarello’s injury and a myriad of other problems, who knows, maybe it would be the Rangers hosting the ‘Hawks in MSG on Wednesday night. Alas, it was not meant to be, as the Rangers dropped a heartbreaking Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the ECF.
The Rangers will watch the Blackhawks celebrate their Stanley Cup win before the Blackhawks & Rangers, two original 6 teams, start off the NHL season. Win or lose, what’s most important for the NY Rangers is to hope their star goalie is strong. Henrik Lundqvist has had many slow starts over the years. It would be nice for the Rangers to play ahead of their division, rather than having to play catch-up late.
While Lundqvist has had slow starts over the years, the goal remains the same – make the playoffs. This is a team made for the playoffs, and as we all know, it doesn’t matter where you finish in the standings, it matters how you play come spring time. However, by starting strong, the Rangers, who has an older core than most, with guys who have a ton of miles on them, the Rangers can rest guys up for the playoffs.
Lundqvist was the best player the Rangers had in the playoffs last season and was absolutely on fire in the first two rounds. However, Lundqvist did fall apart a bit against Tampa and cost the Rangers a game where the team gave him 5 goals. Before the back-to-back touchdown games, Hank was lights out, which could’ve been a result of his injury. Hank missed nearly two months of the season last year, which made him fresh for the playoffs. If Raanta can do half as good of a job as Cam Talbot, it should give the face of the franchise a chance to be 100% come mid-April.
As you may have heard by now, the Rangers roster is set. The big news is that Brady Skjei was sent to the Wolfpack, Ralph Diaz & Jason Megna were cut & cleared waivers and McIlrath, Glass & Etem seem to be your healthy cuts.
Here is your official 23 man roster, with the way I feel the depth chart works out:
LINE 1: Brass/Nash/Zucc
LINE 2: Stepan/Kreider/Hayes
LINE 3: Lindberg/Miller/Fast
LINE 4: Stoll/Moore/Stalberg
DEFENSE 1: McDonagh/Girardi
DEFENSE 2: Yandle/Staal
DEFENSE 3: Boyle/Klein
GOALIES: Hank, Raanta
To me, that’s your starting 20. As far as your healthy scratches, you have Etem, Glass and McIlrath.
You know me, I’m very realistic about this team. I don’t give you the rah-rah shit. Yes, I want the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup. But unlike some, I realize that it’s very hard to do. In fact, the Rangers have only done it 4 times in 90 years.
What really hurts this current era of Rangers is that they are a victim of their own success and play under the worst commissioner ever in sports history, in Gary Bettman. Gary Bettman, the same guy who does interviews talking about how much money the NHL makes, then enforces a tight and strict salary cap. A strict salary cap promotes parity and punishes teams that are successful.
I feel this team is weaker than last year. Sure, something can happen at the trade deadline. Perhaps Gorton will pull a page out of the man he took over the job from, in Glen Sather and trade more number 1 picks and top prospects for an aging player. For right now, I don’t see how this team is better than last years.
Just look at this team. You gave away Carl Hagelin for a guy who doesn’t even make the starting line-up. You trade the best back-up goalie in the league for a guy who was a third-string goalie and talked shit about his own team. You pick up another cokehead experiment project, because the Ryan Malone deal worked out so well. You pass on free agent after free agent and settle on Stalberg, a guy that the Predators handed over millions and millions to, just to get him off the roster. Your most inspirational player and a true leader, in Martin St. Louis, is now retired. How is the 2015-2016 opening day roster better than the team that played in Game 7 of the ECF?
You know my Hank rant by now. You’ve seen my Hank blog. But yea, you need to be deep four lines, Hank’s contract hinders that and the Rangers are going to need everything to go right for that to happen. They have a top 3 defense in the league and perhaps now with a full training camp, Yandle can be the best offensive defenseman the Rangers ever had since Leetch was foolishly traded by that senile bastard, Glen Sather.
So what would I do? The Rangers need another goal scorer or hope that Kreider & Hayes deliver the monster seasons that many expect. That’s a ton of pressure on those guys, but they have the potential to be all-stars. You know Rick Nash will disappear in the playoffs again, so the Rangers will need someone to step up, whether it’s on the current roster, the Wolfpack or via trade, and score goals come the playoffs. You can be the biggest optimist in the world, but deep down, when you need Rick Nash to come through, he’s like A-Rod in a big at-bat – useless.
As we watched Carl Hagelin become a victim of the salary cap, it makes me nervous about Chris Kreider. He has to stay here, as he’s in a contract year this season. If at the very worst, he has a season like last year, he’s due for a monster raise. If he has a great year, he will command even more money. The Rangers have to keep him no matter what, which means someone else will be a salary cap dump. When people like me say the window is closing, it’s because of things like this horrendous salary cap. Again, Henry, Henry, Henry, the man who “wants to win at all costs” and “just wants to win a Stanley Cup” says the right things, but demanding a monster contract hurts his chances at getting his Stanley Cup. Let’s just hope by some miracle, the Rangers hoist the Cup this June and my heart rate and stress levels can go back to normal.
I made a cokehead comment in the previous section, alluding to Jarret Stoll. Reports out of the NHL this week is that they are going to start testing for cocaine as they think there is a cocaine problem in the NHL. Puts a whole new spin on the term “snow shower”, huh?
What was funny to me was that cocaine wasn’t already being tested for. What’s even funnier is that the NHL decides to make an issue about cocaine now. Did they ever read Theo Fleury’s autobiography where he talked about his rampant cocaine use all through the 1990’s? Cocaine is not new. This seems like a very late reaction, especially in the wake of Derek Boogaard. (Check my book review, “BOY ON ICE”, in the archives, for more on him.)
The fact that Bettman & the NHL are so ignorant and behind on the issue of cocaine is just another black mark on Bettman’s tenure as commissioner. Three lockouts, drug use, CTE, arena issues league-wide (Isles/Coyotes, etc), shootouts deciding points, etc, doesn’t even scratch the surface of Bettman’s terrible reign. How he still has a job is beyond me. I guess everyone is on drugs.
As much as I’m looking forward to the Rangers starting their season and hoping they win a Stanley Cup this year, I will also have an eye out in Edmonton this season. I’m really interested in seeing how Cam Talbot does as starter and especially on how McDavid, the kid heralded to be better than Crosby, when Crosby was 18 does. Thankfully, I have the NHL Center Ice package, so I can watch any game in the league at any time. It just sucks that I’m working about 60+ hours at my job, so time/sleep management, will be crucial for me to catch all this hockey!
Anyway, last year, I did a few predictions and report cards and it was fun to revisit those blogs as the season went along. I predicted Rangers vs Blackhawks last year, and was a game away from nailing that. With that said, here are my NHL predictions for this season:
Eastern Conference Finals
Rangers vs Capitals
Western Conference Finals
Blackhawks vs Kings
Stanley Cup Finals
Capitals over Blackhawks
MVP: Henrik Lundqvist
Top Goal Scorer: Chris Kreider
Point Leader: Derek Stepan
Traded by Deadline: Tanner Glass
Season begins tonight. Can the Rangers finally win their 5th Cup? The long and strenuous road to the Cup starts at 8PM in Chicago.
LET’S GO RANGERS!
WE WANT THE CUP!
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter