There are still two long months to go between now and the
start of the 2011-2012 NHL season, but expectations for the Rangers have
already been set very high.
Thanks to a group of hard-working, overachieving youngsters
the 2010-2011 Rangers took a big step forward and snagged a playoff berth. The addition of Brad Richards will only put
more pressure on the team, but we must remember that this is still a growing
If all goes right next year: Henrik Lundqvist continues to
be one of the best goalies in the world, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik lead
a much-improved attack and the young defense continues to play well beyond its
Rangers could be one of the league’s surprise teams and make some noise in
However, if the development of some key young players stall,
Gaborik can’t rediscover his scoring touch, the injury bug continues to bit the
Blueshirts and Lundqvist doesn’t perform at his usual level; the
2011-2012 season could turn out to be a huge disappointment.
It’s not hard to imagine either scenario unfolding, but as
with every debate in sports, the truth will likely lie somewhere in the middle.
With good luck, the Rangers could be knocking on the door as
contenders, but they could just as easily be battling for the seventh or eighth
playoff spot. As the summer progresses
it’s easy to get caught up in one way of thinking or another, but remember that
every season is a crapshoot and the performance of every player and every team
varies from one year to the next.
There’s no such thing as a given and even though we’re
pretty sure the Rangers have made dramatic improvements, there are a dozen
other fan bases in the league that think the same way about the direction of
We’ll just have to wait and see how the year unfolds, but
keep in mind that this group of Blueshirts is ahead of schedule and that
patience may be in order. The talent
level on Broadway is improving all the time, but the results may not
immediately translate on the ice.
There will be ups and downs in 2011-2012 and the season
could go either way. As long as the
franchise continues to move in the right direction it’s hard not to be
optimistic about the team’s future, but it may not be fair to expect an Eastern
Conference Finals berth nine months from now.
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