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.
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: Bullet dodged?