Rangers start anew with low expectations around the league

As the puck is set to drop on the Rangers for their 90th season, it appears around the NHL that many don’t expect much from the Blueshirts.

Where do we begin?

Let’s see…

Landed the top UFA 

Finally found top pair right defense for McDonagh 

PP QB 

Re-signed Zibanejad 

Continue to replenish the talent pool (i.e. Chytil) 

Elite Goaltender ?

There you have it. Around the league many are not expecting much from the Rangers because they feel like Henrik Lundqvist is not the goalie he used to be. And that is enough to keep them possibly out of the playoffs for some.

What the “Experts” Are Saying

Yahoo’s and The Sporting News predictions say the Rangers will only land a wildcard spot. Sportsnet lists the Rangers as a team likely to disappoint. USA Today has the Rangers finishing 5th and out of the playoffs. Finally, one from the stat geeks that caught my eye…because predictive math is infallible:

39% chance to make the playoffs? Well, after reading this I think I’ll just save 7 months of my life and focus on reality tv shows.

Why so low?

Apparently, losing Derek Stepan and his whopping 50+ points a year is a killer. Oh, Henrik Lundqvist apparently aged enough this summer to earn his AARP card and can’t stop pucks. Basically making all that you just read a likely outcome this year.

Well…

The Rangers will take a hit from losing Derek Stepan, but that can easily be corrected if both Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes make their natural progressions. Filip Chytil is a wildcard in the whole deck though. If he can post good offensive numbers and limit his mistakes, the Rangers could be in a much better position with him then they would if Stepan was here.

Plus, how do you not look at the acquisition of Kevin Shattenkirk as a massive upgrade for the Rangers. You mean to tell me that Henrik Lundqvist has fallen so far down the elite status that the Rangers can’t compete? I’m sorry…but didn’t the Capitals take a hit? And do we really think the Hurricanes are better? Please stop.

This Is Going to be a Fun Season

Ignore the “experts”. This season has a lot going for it already. The addition of Shattenkirk and the surprise offensive play of 18 year old Filip Chytil lead the way. However, there’s so much more that gives hope.

Pavel Buchnevich looks stronger and so does Jimmy Vesey. They have their rookie years under their belts and will likely make a huge contribution this season. There’s also the ridiculous progress Brady Skjei has made. Factor in his chemistry with Brendan Smith and we will have one of the best 2nd pair defenses in the NHL.

As for Lundqvist, until he hangs up his skates and retires from hockey, he is still elite. Surely, he will likely struggle coming out of the gate as Henrik is a notorious slow starter. We’ve covered that here over the years extensively. It still won’t matter if the team can score. Add in the fact his defense is 10x more mobile than last year and he should have another rock solid campaign.

When the regular season ends, I see the Rangers with 101-105 points, good for no less than 3rd in the Metro. The playoffs are 93% sure in my “gut calculations” versus the silly 39% nonsense.

No matter what, this is going to be a rocking ride. Let’s Go Rangers.

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