With training camp approaching and everyone’s hopes around the NHL being high, it’s no surprise that one of those places where the expectations have grown is New York City. The Rangers were able to get two of their established young stars in Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky locked into deals to keep them around for a few more years.
Oh yeah, they signed the biggest free agent star on the market in Brad Richards. With Richards on board now to give Marian Gaborik someone to feed him pucks so he can try to score 40+ goals once again, things are exciting once again for the Rangers heading into this season and the one guy who’s most excited is Henrik Lundqvist.
Lundqvist spoke with Andrew Gross of The Bergen Record about his thoughts going into this season, one built on a disappointing performance in the first round of the playoffs last year and Lundqvist is excited to start.
“Last year, we were a pretty solid team,” said Lundqvist, who will be among the Rangers touring several New York City Fire Department houses today and greeting family members affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at a reception at the World Trade Center site. “Now, with Brad, we have a little more edge to the team, there’s more skill here in the lineup.”
As for the expectations on the team, Lundqvist welcomes the added pressure.
They do so knowing a repeat of last season’s first-round playoff ouster will now be considered a bitter disappointment, not a building season.
“We should have higher expectations than last year,” Lundqvist said. “I think we’re a better team now than last year.”
The pressure is always high to succeed in New York and Lundqvist has always been the guy to do his job and carry the Rangers as far as they could go. Now he’s got a pair of All-Star caliber offensive stars and a lot of solid younger players dotting the lineup with a host of role playing forwards and a defensive unit that’s strong, the Rangers will be a tough team to deal with. It won’t be easy though. The Rangers division, the Atlantic, is shaping up to be the toughest in the NHL.
With Pittsburgh already there and Philadelphia always being a tough team, the Devils and Islanders figure to be stronger as well and also challenge for the playoffs. The Rangers will face all of those teams the most this year and all of those points are going to be hard earned. Lundqvist and the rest of the team are going to have to be at their best to be able to make the postseason. At the very least with Lundqvist in goal, the Rangers are already at an advantage against most teams. Having an all-world caliber goalie is a nice luxury to have.