Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Shattenkirk 2017-18 Expectations
For the first time in recent memory, the New York Rangers have a dangerous top defensive pairing. Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Shattenkirk will man the blue line together this season as the number one pair. The two American players will look to help each other and the team grow both defensively and offensively.
The past several seasons the team has tried to bring in a defenseman to bolster the point. It hasn’t worked out well and quite honestly has hurt the team. Lackluster defense from the likes of Keith Yandle and others came with the hope of offensive upside; *spoiler* that didn’t happen. A shotty defenseman really is the biggest hinderance on a teams success.
This past summer Kevin Shattenkirk hit the free agent market. Much like the star high school quarterback in a mid-2000s rom-com many wanted him, but only one suitor would be good enough. Once the Rangers signed Shatty it sured up the top four defenseman for the next four seasons.
The expectation is that Shattenkirk will come in and help fix the power play while also during up the right side. Shattenkirk struggled with the Washington Capitals last season on both ends; thus making it a toss up on whether he will solely be able to fix the man advantage or not. One certainty is that the signing of Shattenkirk solidifies the defensive depth of the New York Rangers for several years.
Captain Ryan McDonagh is a true number one defenseman who still continues to improve. His stats are very consistent and most importantly he was a +20 or higher for the third straight season. Expectations for Mac? Solid defense and leadership and about 5-10 goals, 35-40 assists for about 50 points and a +20 or higher rating.
Shattenkirk is coming off a career high 56 point season, but he has registered 44+ points in four straight seasons. A true offensive defenseman and he is here to make long stretch passes and put the puck in the net. Expect about 10-15 goals, 40-45 assists for about 52 points. This could be huge if the team can have two 50 point defenseman at the top.
Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. Many times sports cliches are either only applicable to one sport, or they are outdated. This cliche is one that even today lives to be true. In the sport of hockey, it does not matter how many times you score what matters is how few the opposition does. Coach Orion taught this ideology and it worked out pretty well for everyone.
The key to success will be defense and it all starts with the number one pair.