The wait is over: the New York Rangers open their regular season tonight against the rival Islanders at home, in what is sure to be a night to remember. The World Cup of Hockey and the long preseason were nice, but they’re nothing compared to the real thing. While we don’t have much to go on so far, there’s still enough out there to draw some conclusions about how these two teams match up.
With the Rangers opening at home for the first time since 2007, the team is sure to be motivated and hyped up for tonight’s matchup. Expect the Islanders to come in just as motivated to play spoiler to their cross-town rivals and start the season off with a win. Without further adieu, here’s your 2016 regular season opening night preview.
The Rangers retooled their forward corps this offseason, bringing in a bevy of fast, skilled young forwards. Given the abundance of talent in the group the Rangers now have the opportunity to roll four balanced lines, each one of them capable of scoring or playing in the defensive end.
I keep reading articles from experts and insiders (oh how I hate the term insiders) that the Rangers need to tear it down and rebuild. How their reality is mediocrity not contention and that this organisation has little to be optimistic about. Pardon me for being a tad biased but the tear it down narrative is lazy journalism. Apparently the tear it down method is the correct path to restocking an organisation. I disagree. I also think the Rangers are nowhere near needing this radical approach.
If Jimmy Vesey had joined a Canadian franchise we’d be hearing Canadian insiders project a Calder worthy campaign. If Pavel Buchnevich was anywhere but New York I think we’d be hearing a little more of the Tarasenko and Kuznetzov comparisons too. It’s fashionable to think pessimistically about the Rangers – I guess this is what comes from being a deep pocketed, occasionally recklessly run franchise.
Per Steve Zipay, here are the lines from practice today. It is likely that these are the opening night lines, with Dylan McIlrath and Oscar Lindberg as the guaranteed scratches. There will need to be a decision on the fourth line as well.
Courtesy of long time friend and supporter of the blog @RickNashtag, who you should all be following on Twitter, we are proud to be able to give away three tickets to the 10/19 game against the Detroit Red Wings. The tickets are in section 224, row 10.
Entry is simple: Donate a minimum of $5 to The Garden of Dreams Foundation (click here to donate). Then comment on saying “Donated.” in the comments. A winner will be selected at random by me. It will then be up to you to reach out to @RickNashtag to claim your tickets. These are not email tickets, they need to be mailed to you, so don’t dilly-dally.
- You will need to show proof of donation, so make sure you keep the email receipt. I will be matching time stamps from the email to your comment on the blog. If you donated after being selected, you will be disqualified. You must donate before you comment.
- Your comment must say “Donated.” I will be ignoring and/or deleting comments that don’t say this, so that we keep track of entries.
- One entry per person. Yes, we can track that.
- Winner will be selected tonight, 10/12, at 9pm.
Three little tidbits from the Rangers came out today:
- Kevin Klein missed his second straight practice with back spasms. He is a question-mark for the opener on Thursday. Alain Vigneault has stated that the Rangers will not make a roster move until he is healthy. This means Dylan McIlrath will remain a Ranger for a little while longer.
- Nathan Gerbe has decided not to play in Hartford. He will be placed on waivers for his release, and will play in Switzerland.
- Rick Nash will join Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and Derek Stepan with an ‘A’ on his jersey.
The Rangers spent the entire offseason retooling the forwards with an emphasis on speed, skill, puck possession, and penalty killing ability. The penalty kill will also get a boost with a healthy Rick Nash back in the lineup. However retooling the PK forwards isn’t enough to solve the problem.
The concern with the Rangers was two-fold:
- Aging defensemen that were always out of position or unable to stick their man.
- A system that didn’t play to the strengths of the major minute eaters on the penalty kill.
On this week’s episode of the Blue Seat Blogs-cast we talk about the recent Dylan McIlrath rumors, forecast this upcoming season, and talk about who makes it into the final roster for Thursday. As always you can find us right here on blueseatblogs.com, on SoundCloud, and on iTunes.
Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers appear to be seeking a trade partner for defenseman Dylan McIlrath. McIlrath has been a bit of a polarizing player since his draft year, and by no fault of his own. The Rangers passed on Vladimir Tarasenko and Cam Fowler to pick McIlrath as their project pick. A brutal knee injury hurt McIlrath’s already weak skating, which lengthened his development time.
He’s never going to be the quickest guy, the one that can chase down the opposition from behind. But his skating is phenomenally improved since as recently as last year. He’s significantly more agile, moving from side to side with relative ease. He’s also found ways around his skating pitfalls with great positioning and stick work.
McIlrath and Adam Clendening appeared to be in a fight for the last spot, even if they didn’t need to be. McIlrath’s numbers are solid enough that he earned a spot on the bottom-pair. At the very least, McIlrath is an upgrade on some of the other defensemen on the roster. This is a puzzling move for a team that had a great offseason.
As promised, seeing as the first Blueseatblogs Fantasy league filled up in no time at all, we’re opening up another league at short notice.
The league set-up (roster size, draft time, scoring settings etc.) will be the same as the first league. Details of which you can find here.
The two divisions of six will be called Hands up who hates the Islanders and Dear Rick, goals would be nice.
League number two will draft 6pm eastern, tomorrow. Register here.
Per Steve Zipay, injured center Oscar Lindberg is practicing in full today, and is not in a non-contact jersey. Lindberg had dual hip surgery in May to repair a pair of torn labrums. He was expected to be out six months from the date of the surgery, setting him up for an early-November return.
Lindberg appears to be ahead of schedule. There have been more than a few questions regarding who centers the fourth line, with Josh Jooris seemingly taking that role with Lindberg out.
The Rangers are currently at 24 skaters. Lindberg was expected to go on IR, but that may not be the case any longer. If so, the Rangers will need to cut at least one more skater to get to 23 by tomorrow’s deadline.