New York Rangers Expectations From the Eyes of a Fan/Analyst
Sometimes, the head and the heart can tell you two different things about a situation. A lot of New York Rangers fans are experiencing this while placing their expectations on this team.
For many people, it is hard to differentiate between reasonable expectations and fan expectations, especially for New York Rangers fans. Of course it is hard, you want to see your team be the best they can be and shut all the doubters up.
There has been much talk since the team was eliminated from the playoffs in mid-April last year about whether they would still be a contender come 2016-2017. Since then, I have been struggling a bit with this too.
This article will be an attempt to put this to rest, though. This post will talk about expectations from a fan versus expectations from an analyst. We will see how different they can end up being.
Expectations from a fan
The Rangers made the Stanley Cup Finals in 13-14 and made it back to the Eastern Conference Finals the next year to lose in seven games. After those two wildly successful campaigns, the Rangers nose-divided last season and only the fans seemed to noticed. That was until the playoffs.
They went on to lose to the Penguins in five games, in which they were blown out three times. This was supposed to be a wake-up call to management because they did get embarrassed, but also, you could rationalize the loss.
The Rangers in the four seasons prior played in 80 playoff games! Players like Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and a huge group of other players played about five seasons in four years. That’s crazy!
Moving on to this year with a bunch of rested bodies and a lot of new, fresh blood, the team has looked better offensively, but just as bad defensively. Henrik Lundqvist has even been struggling to get back on his game consistently.
We all know that the Rangers need to trade for a right-handed blueliner. Perhaps some cup winning experience/grit for the bottom six wouldn’t hurt either. But even without those moves being made, this is still a team on pace for about 100 points that has nothing to prove during the regular season. They are a young offensive dynamo at times and can get hot at any time and make their way back to the Stanley Cup Finals, but a lot has to happen.
With all of this said, my expectation for this team as a fan is Stanley Cup or bust.
Expectations of an Analyst
While the Rangers made a lot of smart and savvy moves during the offseason to enhance their forward group, other than acquiring Nick Holden via trade, they did little to nothing for a lackluster, aging defense.
You keep seeing this team down in games early. Whether you think so or not, that wears on a team. It is mentally exhausting to have to come back in games night after night. Henrik Lundqvist has struggled mightily at times since last year’s playoffs. While he is still, for the most part above-average, he is no longer elite. Anyone who tells you otherwise is misguided by their fandom.
Until the Rangers make a move discarding either Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Marc Staal or any combination of the three, they aren’t going to be able to compete with teams like the Capitals or Penguins, who reign in their very own division.
The Rangers defensive rebuild which they need to undergo would start this season at the trade deadline and could be finished as early as this offseason, according to my blueprint.
Since you won’t be able to trade Girardi, you need to wait till the offseason to do so. This kind of prevents you from being a top contender. They still can make a push through maybe one round of the playoffs.
This year needs to be more focused as a developmental year for the young forward group. It’s going to be very hard for this team to make a run at the Cup this year, which is why I don’t think they are Stanley Cup or bust.
I think the playoffs are just gravy for them. If they start the defensive rebuild, they will be serious cup contenders in 2017-2018. For this year, however, they’d be playing with house money.
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