2014-15 New York Rangers Season Preview

Colorado Avalanche v New York RangersThe New York Rangers come into this season knowing that they were good last year—just not good enough. The question is, did the team do enough to win the ultimate prize in hockey this season?

Arguably the biggest addition to the Rangers lineup is defenseman Dan Boyle. While aging, Boyle provides a veteran leadership presence on the back end and the ability to move the puck efficiently to the forwards and on the power play. Forwards Lee Stempniak and Matthew Lombardi will also join the team, with the 32-year-old Lombardi coming off a 20-goal, 50-point effort in just 46 games with the Austrian National League.

With the loss of Brad Richards, who was relegated to fourth-line duties at times with the Rangers, the team will look to Derek Stepan to take over as the top-line center. With a career-best 57 points last season, including 40 assists, Stepan should get plenty of quality playing time with superstars like Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis.

Derek Brassard will serve as a solid second-line center, but the team lacks depth down the middle on the third and fourth lines. This is where the team hopes Lombardi will show the same scoring touch he possessed last season and help provide offensive depth for the Rangers.

In net, the team will again rely largely on the services of Henrik Lundqvist, who played in 63 games last season and posted a 2.36 goals against average and .920 save percentage during the regular season. While Lundqvist remains one of the top goaltenders in the league, it will be interesting to see if coach Alain Vigneault will give more playing time to backup netminder Cam Talbot, who played in 21 games last season. Talbot boasted a 12-6 record in 2013-14 with three shutouts, a 1.64 goals against average and a .941 save percentage. It’s unlikely that Talbot takes the reigns from Lundqvist as the number one guy, but deferring more games to Talbot could help keep Lundqvist healthy and fresh for what the Rangers hope will be another deep playoff run.

But will all of this be enough to get the Rangers to the promised land? The team should have no problem making the playoffs again and will likely finish in the top three of the Metropolitan division. The team’s defense will again be solid, but their long-term success will largely depend on how the offense clicks and the production of key depth players like Hagelin and Lombardi.


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