Currently the NHL CBA is set to expire in 4 days and hockey fans are on edge waiting for a conclusion to the labor dispute. As for now, there is a schedule in place, so let’s assume the season goes forward. As planned, here are 10 dates that the New York Rangers storylines we would love to see played out.
October 12th New York Rangers at Los Angeles Kings: The Stanley Cup Champions open the season at home, hoisting their banner in front of last season’s #1 seed in the East. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist edged out Kings Jonathan Quick for the Vezina, but now Lundqvist wants Quick’s Conn Smythe. The same way the Rangers opened their season last year (against the Kings) is the same way they open it this season. Are the Rangers going to make a statement against the Champs?
October 17th New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils: Like “Buckner returning to Shea,” as Matt Damon said in Rounders, the Rangers will return to the site of their great disappointment from 2012. After Adam Henrique’s goal mouth poke-in ended their season, the Rangers were left with thoughts of what-might-have-been. Taking on the Devils wouldn’t make last season’s end less bitter, but it would be the second statement game in the season’s first week for the Blueshirts. Are the Rangers going to have enough emotion left?
October 25th New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins: The Rangers were the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but the Penguins weren’t healthy all last year. This time, Sydney Crosby will be playing and Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin will be waiting. While the Rangers stormed through the East, they struggled against Pittburgh and the Pens remember that. This will be the Penguins time make a statement, but will this retooled Rangers team with Rick Nash and Chris Kreider show they’re as talented as the Penguins? Tough to say.
October 26th New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes: The most altered Eastern Conference team from the 2012 season is the Carolina Hurricanes. With Jordan Staal joining his brother Eric and new free agent Alexander Semin, the Hurricanes could be a force to be reckoned with in the East. Already with a Stanley Cup ring, goalie Cam Ward will look to send a message to Henrik Lundqvist, brother Marc Staal and the Rangers. Another statement game for an opponent, but NYR will get everyone’s best shot this year. Get used to it.
November 4th New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers held a lead against the Rangers for a total of ten minutes and 7 seconds last season (all in the Winter Classic). The Flyers didn’t improve at all from last year, but they got a ton of young talent are hungry to rebound from getting bounced by the Devils in the second round. Are the Rangers going to have that same mental toughness against the Flyers and Claude Giroux they had last year?
November 8th New York Rangers vs Minnesota Wild: The Wild used the current CBA to lock up the top free agent forward and free agent defenseman when Zach Parise and Ryan Suter each signed 13 year deals to go home. The Wild could be a team to be on the rise in the West and New York will show that their addition (Rick Nash) will be equally as big.
November 13th New York Rangers at New York Islanders: These games are always good, even if most have been taken NYR in recent years, but this is the first time ever that it will feature TWO #1 overall draft picks. Sure, Rick Nash was taken by Columbus, but that brings up John Tavares. The most underrated player in the NHL has factored in most of the Islanders scoring (over 50%) and he’s only getting better. The Islanders are looking to make the playoffs for the first time in five years and this win would get fans to believe in their team.
November 14th New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals: The Capitals were eliminated by the Rangers and find themselves completely changed. Dale Hunter is gone. Alexander Semin is gone, but Braden Holtby and Adam Oates are in for the full ride. What Alex Ovechkin will the public see? The high scoring energetic player or the malcontent he was labelled as last year by the media. Ovechkin isn’t done in any way shape or form, but he always ramps up his game in New York.
November 23rd New York Rangers at Boston Bruins: Storylines aplenty in this game. Last year’s top two Eastern Conference team matching up against each other with Boston having a new starting goaltender (Tuukka Rask takes over for Tim Thomas) and Rangers rookie winger Chris Kreider plays his first game in Boston since winning the National Championship with Boston College. The Bruins and Rangers have always played hard-fought games, expect blood…that is if the game is played.
November 26th New York Rangers at Vancouver Canucks: This was the Stanley Cup Finals most Rangers’ fans wanted last year. The rematch of 94 didn’t happen as both teams fell short of their ultimate goal with the Canucks in disarray from their first round exit. Likely, NYR will face Boston native Cory Schneider as there appears to be a changing-of-the-guard in Vancouver, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilites to see All Star Roberto Luongo in net against Henrik Lundqvist.
Well…it would be nice to see these games, but it looks like we’re heading for a lockout that this league DOES NOT need. Hopefully our worst fears aren’t answered, but there’s always playing these games in NHL 13. That’s the same, right?