Big training camp questions that will define the New York Rangers season (Part 2)
The New York Rangers will be opening Training Camp in just a matter of days. The team’s success in making the Qualifiers last season becomes an added burden to the organization this season.
Yesterday, we presented Part One of this Two Part series tackling some intriguing questions. We now conclude our look at the top questions that will define the Blueshirts 2020-21 season.
Ryan Strome Needs to Replicate Last Seasons Numbers
Plenty of uncertainty lays with Ryan Strome. The club did sign him to a two-year, $9 million contract, but things seemed edgy between the two sides.
Strome needs to start off right where he left off with his partner in crime, Artemi Panarin last season.
Panarin’s debut season on Broadway was a success and Strome’s efforts deserves some credit for that. The Rangers need him to perform just as well this year to make his substantial contract worthwhile. Otherwise, he could find himself on the unprotected list for the Seattle expansion draft.
Strome will also need to be one of the mentors to the kids on the team during train camp. A big responsibility but no doubt one Strome can handle. Hopefully, they can sneak his mom into a game for one of her starting lineup introductions.
Avoiding The Sophomore Jinx for Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren
This will be the first training camp that both Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren are penned into the starting lineup. The dynamic duo will both be looking to avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx this year.
They will need to be ready to go from the first drop of the practice puck with the defense still a huge question mark this season.
As strong as they were together last season, there is a good chance the duo are broken up to keep a balance between the top two pairs on the blue line.
Training camp should dictate where Fox and Lindgren start the season and how far the team can go up in the standings. That will give us a good indication of how much the two have improved and if they remain to be the best pairing to defend the opponent’s top lines.
A Better Showing For Jacob Trouba
Jacob Trouba never seemed comfortable playing for the Rangers last season. He showed signs of breaking out by playing some strong defense, making the great breakout pass from within his own end, and occasionally threw that big hit. Things were getting better towards the end of the year.
Other than goalie Igor Shesterkin, this year’s training camp is so important for Trouba. The right-handed defenseman must show he is the leader on defense. With so many young players in the lineup and possibly on the taxi squad, Trouba has to be the defenseman on the ice to bring everything together for what is certainly the team’s weakest link.
Trouba will have these two weeks to bring them together as one solid unit and at the same time find the style of hockey the Rangers expect when they traded Neal Pionk for him in 2019.
This Is Igor Shesterkin’s Team Now
For the first time in 15 years, Henrik Lundqvist is not the man to lead the team onto the ice. That responsibility now belongs to Igor Shesterkin. Is he up to the challenge?
The Russian rookie now will stand in goal without the benefit of Lundqvist serving as his backup. He appeared in 12 games last year and took the reins from Henrik with confidence winning 10 of those contests.
Coach Quinn will need to pay attention to how the goalie is reacting to back to back games along with several four games in seven nights opportunities to make sure he doesn’t overplay his top net minder.
Training camp will also allow Shesterkin ample time to get his timing and focus back to where it needs to be. Alexandar Georgiev and Keith Kinkaid will see strong play in front of them, but make no mistake about it, this teams success and failures land on top of Shesterkin’s shoulders.
A short time to answer a lot of questions
Training camp 2020-21 is going to be a sprint. The Rangers will have 10 days filled with many questions and little time to find all of the answers.
Questions answered or not, training camp will jump right into the regular season with 56 games to play in less than five months. Never has training camp been so important than the one the Rangers are about to embark on next week.
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