Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New York Rangers.
After a rocky start paved with road games, the New York Rangers enjoyed a 2013-14 season that would be deemed a success by most accounts. That being said, life is often very unkind to teams that are on the losing end of a Stanley Cup Final … a point that probably isn’t lost on Alain Vigneault.
It doesn’t help that the offseason was a rocky one for this Rangers team.
Depth was one of the strengths that really stood out during their scrappy playoff run, yet salary cap realities prompted the departures of useful complimentary players like Brian Boyle and Benoit Pouliot. It was a no-brainer to buy out Brad Richards, but it also probably leaves a hole down the middle. There are also more than a few stats-inclined people who will believe that the organization erred in essentially choosing Dan Girardi over Anton Stralman.
Interestingly, the Rangers now rely a bit more heavily on the high-end. Martin St. Louis gets a full season with his new team. Rick Nash aims to redeem himself after another disappointing playoff year. Dan Boyle hopes to prove that he isn’t washed up just yet. Henrik Lundqvist’s new contract kicks in while prominent players including Marc Staal and Derek Stepan aim to earn new deals of their own.
With plenty of Eastern Conference teams making key improvements, it’s difficult to label the Rangers as favorites to return to the championship round next season. Last year’s team played at its best with their backs against the wall, though, so such thoughts might only benefit New York in 2014-15.
Let’s have some fun probing the many fascinating questions facing this Rangers team, then.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Update: It didn’t get much better going forward; the Senators beat the Maple Leafs 6-1.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
Update: This seems fairly positive.