It sounds silly that we are a week and half into the NHL season and I am saying the New York Rangers are in a critical moment. How could that be right? Well due to another round of building renovations at Madison Square Garden the Rangers will not play their first home game until late October. In fact the Rangers first home game is Monday October 28th versus the Canadians.
So the Rangers first 9 games of the season start on the road.
That’s a very tall order for any hockey club to begin a season under those considerations. Then in throw in the fact the Rangers have a new coach in Alain Vigneault and a new style of play which is much different than the John Tortorella era, and things get much more complicated.
Then throw in the fact the Rangers are on a very incredible tough trip to boot based on the competition. So far the Rangers have played 5 games and are 1-4-0 with 2 Points. The Rangers lost to Phoenix, beat the LA Kings, then got blown out by the Sharks (9-2) and Ducks (6-0) followed by a loss to the Blues. No one expected a 7-2 road trip but the key for the Rangers was not have this trip put them behind the 8 Ball. The next 4 games are very important to the Rangers they need to go at least 2-2 or get some combination of 4 points. This would not be an ideal situation regarding their record in their 1st 9 games, but it’s livable. The Rangers next 4 games which is played over the next 2 weeks (a lot of back to back games coming for the Rangers down the line and 3 games in 4 nights) are at Washington, Jersey, Philly and Detroit.
The Rangers started this season with one of the key players on injured reserve in forward Carl Hagelin (off-season shoulder surgery). If that was not bad enough on the 3rd game of this trip the Rangers lost Rick Nash to a concussion in San Jose. Nash who suffered from a concussion last year for the Blue Shirts has missed the last 2 games. I am not sure when Nash will come back, I believe it will be sooner rather than later. But given the fact that Nash has had concussions before and how critical Nash is to the Rangers success my advice is for she Rangers to be very smart on their decision making on getting Nash back on the ice.
Now the Rangers should be able to amass 4 points in their next 4 games. While the Red Wings are off to a good start all 3 of their other opponets (Capitals, Flyers, and Devils) are off to poor starts. If you read my preseason article on the Eastern Conference you will know I think that both the Flyers and the Devils will not be playoff teams.
Critical time for the Rangers and it comes on games 6 through 9. The Beauty and unpredicatblility of sports.
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NL King – CJ Lizza