In a run-down of his top-1o predictions for the upcoming season, USA Today’s Kevin Allen ranked the Rangers (along with the Buffalo Sabres) as teams who will move up in the Eastern Conference at No. 5.
“The improved New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres should be moving up in the Eastern Conference standings, although it’s difficult to project who is falling. The Washington Capitals? Penguins? Don’t see it, but some do.”
Hard to disagree, at least on paper. This team was strong throughout the year last year (aside from a six-game losing streak that nearly cost the team the playoffs), and they filled nearly all the holes it had with the signing of Brad Richards. In Richards, they now have a top-line center to play with Marian Gaborik, as well as a power play quarterback, something they haven’t had in a long-while if you don’t include Michael Del Zotto two seasons ago.
The biggest hole the team faces is scoring from the blue line. Simply put, they don’t have any. Dan Girardi led the team last season with 31 points, but only four goals. Marc Stall led the defense in goals with just seven. That just isn’t enough. The team failed to improve the defense much, possibly in hope that Del Zotto will return to his rookie season form and lead the offense from the back-end.
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