The New York Rangers X Factor In 2014 -15: “Size”

Ryan McDonagh and the Rangers are ready to go (Photo by Anthony J. Causi)

Ryan McDonagh and the Rangers are ready to go (Photo by Anthony J. Causi)

Hello Ranger fans! If you are all as excited as we are here at Full Tilt about the upcoming season, you’ll enjoy this week’s posts. There’s a lot to be anxious about, however, in this entry I want to focus on what our New York Rangers need to get back to the finals and come home with the Stanley Cup.

The Rangers were one of the fastest teams in the NHL last season top to bottom.
Ryan McDonagh (USATSI)

Ryan McDonagh (USATSI)

The Rangers have speed and are working on filling in-depth but do they have the size to compete with the powerhouse Western Conference teams? From the top line to the bottom line and from top pair defense to third pair, the Rangers have incredible skaters. They’re not only fast but guys like Ryan McDonagh, John Moore are truly gifted skaters. Marc Staal isn’t too shabby either as he’s able to skate backwards as well as he can forwards. Dan Boyle may have lost a step or two but he was brought in for his play with the puck. A good first pass can beat any skater. No matter how fast.

Up front, the first guy you think of is Carl Hagelin. Like John Moore his stride is effortless and he flies. Chris Kreider also has wheels, except he’s also one of the biggest guys on the ice at any time. There are countless others and now that Anthony Duclair is in the lineup, there’s another quick headache for opposing defenseman. Maybe those defenseman can ask “Hank” more about Advil (bad joke). The New York Rangers of 14/15 will look much like the team from last season but that may be part of the problem too.

The New York Rangers are thin at Center as it is, Loosing Brad Richards hurt and now Derek Stepan will miss at least 10 games on LTIR.

As it is, even if Derek Stepan was healthy, the New York Rangers were thin down the middle. With Stepan Injured it creates opportunities for a rookie to start his NHL career but in the short-term it could lead to another slow start. If it means the Rangers will put it together late and make a run at the Cup then I’ll take it every season but it doesn’t always work out that way.

The Metropolitan Division has improved immensely, no longer is a top 3 spot a given.

The Penguins are still the favorites, the Islanders have made serious repairs to their entire lineup. The Capitals look pretty good in the preseason adding a couple of veteran defenseman like the Islanders just did. Even the Devils have plugged some weaknesses like scoring to go with being one of the better defensive teams in the NHL and a strong possession team.

I’m sure the Rangers’ staff will try to put out the best roster they can and whoever doesn’t produce will be replaced as the season goes on. The Rangers may have to seek out a a big centerman if they want to get by the East let alone beat one of the teams from the West. Notably the three big teams from California. Still, the Rangers have to make it work with their tight cap.

Is Kevin Hayes The Answer At Center?

It doesn’t matter where Kevin Hayes will play, his size will help. It looks like he may have to get used to the physical aspect of the game but he never looked fazed by the speed of the game.

Kevin Hayes (Getty)

Kevin Hayes (Getty)

He will begin the season as a healthy scratch, but his return to center the 3rd or 4th line will be key. Coach Alain Vigneault will likely give his third line sheltered minutes with a lot of offensive zone starts against lighter competition. Like he did with his third line last season. Many fans want to see JT Miller get a long look but big centerman like Kevin Hayes will be the New York Rangers “X Factor” this season.

Feel free to comment below.

 

I began watching the Rangers in 1990 when I was 9 years old. Soon after a lifelong friend of... More about Bob-O