After a rough, shortened year in 2020, Rangers hockey is back in full swing, and the organization is champing at the bits to make a name for themselves in the division. At the conclusion of the 2020 schedule, the Rangers fired their GM Jeff Gorton and President John Davidson and in lieu of that, replaced them with a very familiar face to Rangers fans everywhere, Chris Drury. It was speculated from fans and sports analysts that it was ‘investors who were making all the decisions in the front office’ so to have a Rangers alumni running operations along with new head coach Gerard Gallant, it’s going to be a exciting and interesting season.
New York has bolstered its roster during the off-season, bringing Ryan Reeves over from Vegas as an enforcer to introduce more toughness on the ice. The Rangers also brought over Sammy Blais from St. Louis who Rangers hope for a big break out season to back up the Rangers impact players in the likes of Mike Zibadejad, Artemi Panarin, and Chris Kreider. The downside to Blais is he brings over a history of injuries that had sidelined him most of his young NHL career. For example, in his first two seasons he only played 43 games and in 2019 missed half the season as well. I truly feel that Rangers fans have justified concern of this but undeniably optimistic and hopeful for this young winger. Hopefully these guys maintain a consistent healthy season or it’s going to end up a self-inducing palm to the face frustration from Ranger fans.
The New York Rangers strengths this year is their goaltending. Igor Shesterkin has proven that when he is healthy and, on the ice, he can be a nightmare in the net to opposing skaters to put pucks at the back of the net. In 2019-2020 season, his first twelve games played he put up an overwhelming 10-2 record only allowing 29 goals on 424 shots against and finishing the season with a 2.52 GAA and .932 S%. Shesterkin has suffered a few groin injuries in the past which has fans holding their breath for him to stay healthy. He was also injured in the last month of the 2020 season in which, you can make the argument, aided in the Rangers playoff hopes vanishing over the last 20 games of the season. Alexander Georgiev is a very solid reserve goaltender but as my good friend Nick likes to put it, ‘he can’t handle the load of an everyday goaltender. 5-7 games in a row he remains solid but leaving him in over a span of a month can be costly”.
Another potential strength of the Rangers is their defense, especially in the likes of Adam Fox who is the prestigious Norris Trophy winner the previous year playing alongside Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren. While on the topic, the Rangers’ defense is also their liability and weakness because of their lack of playing consistent hockey bringing a very goal prone line in front of Shesterkin.
The key to success for this team would be to remain healthy if not for the entire season, an overwhelming majority. If there is one thing fans hate the most, and not just Rangers fans, but die-hard fans of any sport, is knowing your team on paper can be a menace and a root canal in the league and these opportunities completely squandered and disappearing because of injuries, especially to key impact players. Trust me, I’m a god dam Yankees fan and nothing has broken my heart more than them. Another expectation is a solid and consistent performance from the young guys on the team like Kaapo Kakko, Alexis LeFrenière, Adam Fox, Filip Chytill, and K’Andre Miller. With Chris Drury now running hockey operations, this team will have a new look at how strategies are played and how consistency can be implemented. The Rangers also are looking to name a captain which they haven’t done since Ryan McDonagh trade in 2018. It’s going to be an exciting season because it’s the first full season in two years and fans are ready for their pulse feeding, energy smothering, big hitting, and epic goal scoring frenzy of hockey! It’s back starting Tuesday with a two-game slate. The Penguins and defending champion Lighting battle it out and then later the brand-new expansion team in the Seattle Kraken looking to make a statement right out of the gate as they square up with Vegas’ Golden Knights.
Wednesday is the game that Rangers fans are waiting for, as this anticipated heated matchup with the Washington Capitals will grip all of the hockey fan base. After last year’s brutal exchanges between the two and the back-and-forth rhetoric, the Rangers and Capitals meet again in the nation’s capital. It’s going to be heart throbbing and an overwhelming exciting game, let’s go Rangers!
With the new season upon us, what are your expectations? How do you feel about the new additions? Can the Rangers stay consistent and compete in the playoffs if they reach the post-season? Let me know what you think. Leave your comments, concerns, agreements, and disagreements below. Go and check me out over on Instagram at slingermosley_sports or over at Twitter @SlingerMosley.