Today it all begins. The Rangers open their season today as the season, tone setting, nine game road trip gets under way tonight in Phoenix. Let’s jump straight into the first Musings of the new season.
It will be interesting to see how Derek Stepan starts tonight. Will he be a step behind? Will the lack of reps, preseason games, training camp, and a new system implementation hurt him? He’s going to be under the microscope and has a lot of responsibility to shoulder.
A player that could thrive under Alain Vigneault’s (apparently) more open system could be Michael Del Zotto. Like so many Rangers, this is a big year for him. Is he finally going to put it all together and be a consistent offensive threat from the blueline? Or does he become expendable after this season? A good year from MDZ likely means an improved Rangers PP.
Most unpredictable player heading into tonight? Mats Zuccarello.
Jesper Fast has nothing to lose. People were pencilling in Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, or Chris Kreider into the opening night roster; but it’s Fast that gets the gig to begin the year. With Hagelin and Callahan out, but expected back soon, Fast is basically auditioning. With no huge expectancy but a lot of excitement about his development, Fast has a chance to play fear free and go gung-ho. He’ll be one to watch to see how he adapts.
The Coyotes have a good looking powerplay with Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mike Ribeiro, Shane Doan and the pesky Radim Vrbata. As is often the case, good discipline and keeping their PP off the board could be huge tonight. The Rangers struggled on special teams in the preseason, it will be important to just cope while Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin recover.
I’m intrigued to see J.T. Miller in action tonight. I don’t like him down on the fourth line but he has a chance to move up the depth chart if he carries on his preseason form.
Initial league observations: The Toronto Maple Leafs have started well, something they usually do. The Capitals look like they will concede a lot this year. The Flyers won’t be a threat in the Metropolitan division.
- Who will produce more this season: Brassard or Richards?
- Who will be the Rangers top producing defenseman?
- First to 20: Callahan, Hagelin or Brassard?
- How many wins will Lundqvist get this season?
- What record would you be happy with from the 9 game road trip?
Opening night prediction: Rangers win 3-2 in overtime. Brassard, Richards and Staal with the goals, special teams produce.
Lets go Rangers!